This is a picture of Julia walking to class. Her case manager sent it to me yesterdy. He wrote: “Hey, I was following Julia and a peer in the hall, talking like best buds. Not sure who her friend is, but I’m happy she has made strong connections with reg ed peers.”
It is a great picture.
When I looked at it, my first impulse, after a good hearted motherly smile, is to race to the story of Julia making a friend, going over someone’s house, talking too long on the phone, telling secrets to someone (not me), going to a sleepover, having a party. And then, I stop.
I practice staying in the present moment every day. Sometimes I’m not bad at it on the cushion (I know, judgment) but I am pretty awful at it off that cushion (Ok, another judgement). I think there were many times in Cheshire’s growing life that I was, without any practice at all, in the present moment. I did not listen to her playing at a violin recital and compose the story of her musical career, when I saw her in a formal, I did not imagine a wedding. However, with Julia, I am always in extended story mode. Every slight gain—every milestone which is a milestone only for a kid without social skills, every homework assignment completed relatively independently, every request that is somewhat age appropriate—I imagine to be a step on a ladder, a developmental highlight which will lead somewhere better and greater. More, better, further along the road to a typical life.
It is exhausting and sad. It usually ends up as good ol’dukkha, Buddhist suffering. The second arrow, worry about her future.
Yesterday, I stopped the story and just looked at the picture. To walk along a high school hall with another student, talking. This, just this, is something I’ve hoped for and wanted for my girl. And it happened.