I’m trying to be a better beach bum.Posted: February 20, 2013
Sometimes expectation is like being on an island. I have been planning, hoping, and dreaming on this island. This island is where expectation is supposed to come be reality.
Around the island, of course, is an ocean, full of possibility. I think for most of my life I’ve seen my island living as a fishing expedition. I saw things float along the horizon, and I’d determine whether I wanted to acquire these things or not. More money? Yes, please. Healthy bodies? Good friends? Strong marriage? Yes, yes, yes. Make a plan, cast the line, hope for a bite.
Then there were some other things I’d see out in that sea of possibility. I’d hear about a friend of a friend who just got divorced. Lost a job. Got sick. No, no, no thank you. This all seemed emminently reasonable. Why would I go fishing for things like that? No good could come out of it.
That is how things went in my mind, until LP came along.
You see, having a child with Down Syndrome had been very squarely categorized as one of those things to let float on by. Having a “different” kid was something that happened to other people.
There we were, Latke and I, with this little baby who has washed up to our shores, who is exactly what we saw so many others actively avoiding. Through prenatal testing, embryo selection, avoiding advanced maternal age, we understood the clear message: You do not want to have one of these kids. Despite that, there he was; a being I had grown in my body, but I wasn’t supposed to want.
At that point, I started to look more closely at my island. Was it like fishing? Do you get to pluck the good, desirable part out, and leave the rest behind? I looked at my marriage. Would it be better without the bad moments? Isn’t the strength of my marriage built partly on the scar tissue of those early fights and compromises? Aren’t the lows what inform the highs?
I understand why we don’t go looking for hard times. I do. I think, however, that I have been missing the bigger picture. I think I’ve been spending my time fishing for a one-sided coin.
Imagine someone had come to me a few months ago and said, “Your marriage will get stronger. You will see beauty you didn’t know previously existed. You will have a life-altering shift that will cause you to be more honest and accepting while less fearful of difference.” I would have cast my line for that offer, no hesitation.
Now, knowing the other side of that coin, would I throw it back? I can’t say that I would. I have looked at the things on my island, I realize that everything comes with cost and benefit. Maybe it isn’t about fishing. Maybe it is more like waiting for whatever washes onto my shores. Maybe it is about spending less time expecting but more time appreciating the beautiful beach I’m sitting on right now.
And while I have been busy pondering, reckoning, and reconciling my expectations with my reality, what has the subject of my thoughts been doing? LP has been pretty oblivious to all the fuss. He has been sleeping, trying to suck his thumb, and eating a lot. He has been doing what is most important to him; getting on with the business of growing up. I think I need to learn some tips from my baby on how to be a better beach bum.