Grandmothering-in Special Needs Parenting

 In Weekly Forum Discussion

My dream includes stepping confidently out of the cave of familiarity, and into the meadow of possibilities. Zooming in to the now shows imperfections or anomalies to the field of wildflowers; that is the vision of my dream, viewed from the distance. Yet these possible challenges of rough patches, hills and dips, add to the uniqueness of the adventure. Moving towards my dream and embracing it, allows me to realize how grateful I am for the opportunity of divine appointments. These are unexpected times of encouragement, opportunities to connect with someone you least expect, help for the journey, and at times, making new and wonderful friends. The more people I share my dream with, the more the word spreads to others – I am available to speak, to do a workshop, and share in their journey.

What is my meadow of wildflowers? It is my dream of sharing stories, teaching and educating, and listening to and mentoring people of all ages and ability levels, to help them find their voice and reach their fullest potential. This week, in taking a closer look at this dream, brings focus to the hazy distant view of someday, to what is happening presently. What steps have I already taken outside of the cave? What paths have I already begun to make into the dream field? What needs more work, training, and marketing to make the dream become a reality? Or is it already one?

I read something recently, which reminded me of something my hubby likes to reinforced in me often. Sometimes my quest for life-long learning leaves me stuck in the cycle of study. I firmly believe it is important to continue to add to my knowledge base, and there is nothing wrong with further, formal education. However, when my focus becomes on the study instead of using what I have already learned, I find myself hiding in that cave, afraid I do not know enough to venture out and share with others. The negative voices in my head chatter so loudly they drown out the positive affirmations from people who have heard me speak, or have read something I have written. Then I must make a conscious effort to use the tools, skills, and abilities I already possess, and to never discount the value of life experiences.

I have garnered a variety of skills and education through my Bachelor of Education (B.Ed), with its focus on special education; my 15 years in Toastmasters, where I attained the highest designation of Distinguished Toastmaster multiple times; and various other workshops on writing and speaking. I have practiced my speaking and writing by doing them. For over 10 years I have spoken to audiences of various ages and abilities and received positive feedback. I have written and published one book, numerous short stories and articles, and have told stories to many. During that time, I have also heard the stories of others. I have mentored a few people, and love to see them succeed.

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to do some work with the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Intervention Program which works with children aged newborn to five, who are developmentally delayed or at risk of delay. As a home teacher I helped the families implement therapy and learning through play at their homes. On one occasion, as I went to meet the families of a teacher who would be going on maternity leave, I remember the hesitancy on the part of some of the family members, of meeting a new teacher. One grandmother wanted to know my credentials. I quickly told her about my B. Ed. with my special education focus. This did not satisfy her and she asked me again,

What do you know?

I had a proverbial light bulb moment and replied, “I’m a mother of a special needs daughter. I’ve been a parent in this program, and I appreciated how much help I received.”

The mother and grandmother relaxed and accepted me as the new person in their life and that of their child. This experience has stuck with me. They did not care about what letters were behind my name, what theoretical knowledge I possessed. They needed to know I understood and cared because of my life experience.

I can say as I zoom in on the dream I have, that yes I possess training and have developed my skills, but I have also experienced many things in life that help me empathize with others, and add to the possible connections with my audiences.

Therefore I can say with certainty my dream has become a reality. Now what? I realize I need to take steps, the hard ones, marketing to people so they know I am available. I can take the advice and affirmations I have received from many sources and step out in confidence to provide a workshop which I design and present. I can invite others to join me and showcase what I have to offer. I can continue to write and publish, to allow my stories go beyond where I can physically go.

As I zoom in on the now, I know my dream has started to unfold. It is happening now, and yet there is room for it to grow and flourish as I step out of the cave of the familiar, and into the field of possibilities. How it will expand and change over time, will all be part of the adventure.

Written by: Carol Harrison; Carol’s Corner

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