Thursday, February 28, 2013

What I've Learned

Well, here we are....the "last" post in my year long project. Tomorrow is Abby's 8th birthday, which means tonight finishes my year of blogging. For the last 365 days I have invited you all in. I've shared my many, many joys, a few frustrations, and several sorrows. I have so many hopes about what you've learned in this year of Abby....but I will get to those momentarily. To begin I would like to share a few things that I have learned this year.

Determination is nothing without encouragement.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I committed to a year of daily blogging. There were some days when the posts "wrote themselves", but for the most part they took much thought and planning on my part. I remember my mom asking me how long it usually took me to write my nightly post. She was quite surprised when I told her about one to two hours. Now, granted on those longer nights I was usually distracted by something, but I am not a fast writer - I tend to ponder my choice of words carefully.

There were many nights when I thought, what would missing one post really matter? There were even some nights when I would put the question to Jason, hoping that he would tell me it would be just fine to take a break....but, he would give me "the look" instead. The look that would make me feel terribly guilty - the one that said, "You committed to this, now you need to follow through." After "the look" he would remind me of the people that look forward to reading about Abby's day. 

I know there are some of you that have been on this journey with us since the beginning. I can't tell you how many people would see me and mention how much they enjoyed hearing about Abby. I loved to see them talking with Abby about something that happened recently, or telling me about a time when their child did something similar to her latest antic. All of this encouraged me to keep going - to keep writing. I would not have accomplished a year of posts without all of you - of that I am certain.

It isn't about how much you can handle - it's about how you handle much.

Jason and I have declared this last year "The Year of the Hand". If you've been following my posts you will understand that completely. If you caught us midway through, let me give you a recap. Our year began with Jason getting his wrist set and put in a cast, because he'd slipped on the ice and gotten a small fracture. Only about a month later, Abby had her finger-down-the-drain episode. We did fine for a while, but at the end of summer was when Jason had the crazy spear-through-the-hand accident, and all the drama that followed. Finally, more recently, Jason cut his finger bad enough to require stitches. In all we've had 4 emergency room runs, 2 surgeries, and over 20 stitches - all concerning Abby's or Jason's hands. This can't possibly be typical.

Along with the "hand stuff" we've had sickness to contend with - enough sickness to prompt a drastic change in what Abby eats. It was in desperation, after weeks of bowl issues, that we switched her to a gluten free diet - something that we've stuck to for months now.

There are many other struggles that I could bring up, but I won't. Suffice it to say, we haven't had the easiest of years. But you know what? That's okay. I could have very easily gotten down and angry, and believe me there were a few times when I did, but I didn't stay that way. Believe it or not the blog helped with that. I made it a point when I started this to make this a positive place, a place people will want to visit, a place that lifts up and doesn't drag down. I found that more often than not, that by writing about my day, it was my spirits that lifted. By focusing on my joys, even on the worst days, I always ended my day being thankful, and that is a beautiful thing.

The smallest things can make the biggest impacts.

On most days I shared "little" things. I shared the silly things Abby did and the funny things she said. I didn't dwell on disability, delays, or Down syndrome - because that isn't Abby. I have always believed that it is in the smallest moments that greatness can be found. When I piled up all of those "small" moments I am amazed at the picture I see. As I write this Abby's blog has had 23,827 page views. Oh, I understand that in blogging terms that number is imprecise, and doesn't tell me unique page views, traffic sources, blah, blah, blah. To me it doesn't matter. It tells me that Abby has reached many - in thousands of ways. Yes, her "small" moments have made a huge impact - of this I have no doubt.

Wishes do come true.

If I had one wish concerning the blog, it would be that minds would be changed. That is what I hope you have learned if you have journeyed with me at all - that any kind of challenge, whether it be obvious or not, is only a part of who we are, it doesn't define us. Along with that, I wish that the new parents of a special needs child would be able to peek beyond their fear and see there is a future with so much joy ahead of them. I wish that the families of those parents would understand how much their love, acceptance, and pride mean. I wish for everyone to see the person first, and rejoice in the specialness that makes us unique. I wish for Abby to have blown stereotypes so far out of the water, that others are viewed differently because of that.

I don't wish for much, do I? The thing is, I know that some of these have become a reality because you have taken the time to get to know one very special little girl - an I am eternally grateful.

My excellent teacher: Abby

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