Look, very few people get through this world without troubles. And I find that to “compare” troubles usually gets one nowhere. Yet if one has “unusual” baggage to shlep (pull) along, the community of “normal” people tend to look at you differently, react to you differently, and that itself is a problem. Now why am I saying all of this? Because I think that learning to handle one out-of-whack situation will prepare you for the other, perhaps more hefty ones yet to come.
When I was a young married woman, I felt that I was really one of those lucky people without any big nisiyonot (tests) in life. OK., I had a few untamed and rowdy teenagers, but all and all, things were OK. I could handle teens chasing each other around the table, calling the other various names. Even when they were brandishing chairs in hand. I slowly learned to love the child while hating the behavior, and did pretty good. I picked up a few inspiring songs that helped me cope, a few nice sayings, and surged ahead. Little did I know, but that had been course 101 in “Stuff for Troubles”.
Ricki’s birth took me completely by surprise. Yes I knew I was at risk at my age, but almost everybody in my community faces that risk, and who in the world actually has a baby with Down syndrome?
Well I did. And it was like a pile of bricks falling down on me. Wait, not bricks. Heavy feather pillows. (They are heavy, but have a soft side. Ricki has always been a person I admired for her “oomphy” personality.) But very quickly, I started utilizing all the tools I had used before. And my step-daughter shared with me “Hero” by Maria Carey (I didn’t realize then what type of stuff she did….). I used that song a lot, interpreting various lines to meet my various situations. That was course 202. And I learned a lot in 202. I learned to love one of my older teen sons even though he wasn’t “standard”. I learned to not care so terribly about what other people thought.
Course 303 was the fight for Ricki’s schooling. It was so obvious to me that inclusion was Ricki’s best bet for an education, and I was being told, repeatedly, that I didn’t know, that I was being cruel to my daughter, that I did not accept the reality of her disability, etc, etc…… This course taught me how to be strong enough to face the “authorities”, and to believe in myself.
Several things caused course 404, most of which I am not free to mention. Suffice it to say that this course was far tougher than the rest. I felt that the very foundations of everything I had lived the last twenty years of my life for were being razed. But I was grateful that it was not course 505. This is an ongoing situation, and an OZ I am not likely to leave soon.
So what tools do I use? Several. I think that anyone with problems needs a wide repertoire of instruments to “play”.
First of all comes music. (Well, first after Chocolate. Just kidding.)
Over the years, several tunes has come and gone. Several “Pirke Miami” songs, “Hero”, as I mentioned before, and others. Some inspirational tunes I have used to make power-point slide shows with, but have always been disappointed at my inability to share them. My current favorite is the theme to Titanic. I fell in love with the tune on “first hearing” (as opposed to “first sight”), and I made a lovely Power Point for it. (I would love to re-do it for the web, but since it has 88 pictures, many of them captioned, that’s a lot of work….) I have used music as a tool in almost every way possible: Listening when working, listening on a CD player when waiting for a CAT scan to see if I had cancer (I didn’t). The discman even joined me in bed at night when I was too tense or upset to fall asleep any other way.
Now music is only one tool. Inspirational signs on the refrigerator are another. During the time that we were in legal battles with the school system, a sign “Let GO and let G-d” helped me not rehash and fret about things that I had done what I needed to, and needed to wait for results. It helped remind me that I was not in this fight alone. During this time I also had up a poster from the Nth degree, saying “A community that excludes even one of its members is no community at all.”
Other favorite lines:
“What you achieve through the journey of life is not as important as who you become.”
“The Lure of the Distant and the Difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.”
“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It is not a day when you lounged around doing nothing. It is when you have had everything to do and have done it.”
And let’s not leave out the quote I have on my blog’s side-bar: "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "Tomorrow I will try again".
And of course don’t forget the chocolate!
HAVE A NICE DAY!