Today I had a conversation with a little one about 8 years old.
He asked me, “Is your baby handicapped?”
I took a moment to think. It’s a matter of perspective. Even those great athletes that have so called handicaps have been able to over come them and go on to do great things.
Lately, I feel like I am the one with a handicap. Lisette looks at life and has no questions about what she can achieve. She does what she wants when she decides she wants to do it. Does she want to stand up? She just decides to do it. And she keeps working at it. I, on the other hand, am facing life with this knowledge of all the things that are behind me, and all the things that lie in front of me and I have doubts about my own abilities to achieve success. She has no doubt about getting to those places she wants to arrive at. She just keeps working at them, not doubting the destination, but being patient with the journey.
I feel more of a handicap than she ever will. At least, that is my hope. I have no doubt that she can achieve what ever she sets her mind to. I hope she never feels limited or pulled back, or discouraged by others from achieving things. She, herself, has no doubt about what she can achieve.
My own journey has taken me to a place where I have been stepping forward toward things that I know I want. I have been scared silly. I will one day get around to writing down that story. In this moment, living it all is so much that I can’t think that far ahead. However, I have done my best to do for myself what I want for Lisette’s future. That is to surround myself with loving and supportive people who at times believe in my abilities to succeed more than I myself believe it. I see glimmers of hope and beauty and peace in the eyes and hearts of the people that I’m choosing to surround myself with. I can only hope and pray that I am being a good example to my daughter. To all my children.
There is no reason to put a label on her. For those of us who do not have a developmental disability, perhaps our doubts and fears are our handicap. The limits that we place on ourselves handicap our ability to move forward and to do it with a simple expectation that success will come. Why do I need to focus so much on the time line? The time line and the limits that I place on myself are my handicap. Fear is my handicap. My daughter has no fear of failure. She doesn’t understand why someone would discourage her from being anything but the best at what she can be. Her best is not someone else’s best. Our best is as individual and unique to the universe as each of us. No, to put a label on her, or myself is to limit our abilities. That becomes my handicap.
Perhaps, too, our handicaps are those people who happen to come into or pass through our life and do nothing but discourage and tear us down from the inside. It’s a hard thing to have to say to those handicaps, “I deserve better” and to move on. The struggle is real. We each deserve respect and encouragement to become something greater than we are. To remain sedentary in our place and not achieve more is to waste a good life. The endless possibilities! If our focus is so set on being whatever someone else might think we should be, or to stay where we should stay according to an others perception, we lose ourselves. It’s a journey of self-discovery by constantly challenging our handicaps to become something greater and to make a better life for ourselves.
My daughter does not, and will not if I can help it, ever think of her self as handicapped. If that happens to sneak into her consciousness at some point in life I hope she has the clarity to see it as nothing more than a label to be snipped off much like you would snip off the label on a new shirt. Handicap is nothing more than a misjudgment from others in your abilities. Snip off that thought. There's no handicap here.