Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Delayed Fairytale

Married on November 29, 2007
I'm wondering if life turned out exactly as you had planned it. For me, it just didn't happen. I didn’t get married until I was 40-years-old. Up to that point, I thought spinsterhood was my destiny, and on the exterior, I was okay with it. Deep down though, all I really wanted was to find “the one” to settle down with and to have a family of my own. I wanted the normal that most of my friends and family had settled into years before. But getting married at 40 really sets the whole ideal life plan off by a few years or - let's face it - decades. Make no mistake, I know life doesn’t start when we get married, but come onwe all want to be loved by someone who isn’t directly obligated to, just because we share the same bloodline. And as my whopping almost-four-years of marriage has proven, life is a lot more fun when you share it with the one you love.
Now don’t cry for me, Argentina. I don’t want the pity. Believe me, I got plenty of it during my 40 years of solitude. You name the event - weddings, baptisms, church functions, dinner parties - attending it sans companion makes a single person feel: lonely, weird, awkward, continually uncomfortable, riddled with warts, are you getting the picture? At almost all of these gatherings I would hear, “I don’t understand why YOU aren’t married?” Still makes me cringe. Truthfully, I didn’t know why either and that question only implied that there must have been a reason. In fact, would you do me a favor? In honor of all of those single ladies out there who still haven't had a ring put on it, if you know somebody who’s not married and is well into their thirties, please don’t bother paying them this "compliment." They don’t know why they aren’t married either, and I'm pretty sure it's not because they're just being "too picky." Yeah, I heard that one a lot too.
My single life was tons o' fun! But you can't help but notice that empty pair of wooden clogs next to me, now can you? Holland, 2007
Actually, truth be told, my years (and years) alone weren't all that lonely. I have a wonderful, big family and great friends, and I always had a fabulous job. And if I am offering full disclosure, I usually had a straggling “gentleman-friend” (as my mother-in-law would call it) filling the chair next to me at the movies. Note: I like the word gentleman-friend so much more than boyfriend. First of all, it makes me sound way more mature than I was, and secondly, it makes it sound like I wasted my time with Cary Grant rather than Ferris Bueller. But more often than not, they were undoubtedly more Ferris than Cary. Hence, probably the reason I didn’t marry until I was 40. Thankfully, my even-better-than-Cary came along in the form of Martin who wanted to fill that extra pair of oversized clogs next to me in life. Thus my married life began, albeit a little delayed.
Martin and I leaving our reception and on to even better adventures TOGETHER!  WAHOO!
DELAYED. That is a hard word for me to wrap my head around. It comes with so many negative connotations. But that is a word that I have come to accept since my life has pretty much been perpetually delayed in comparison to all the rest of you normal people out there. (Or at least that's how it feels - like everyone else has had a normal life but me.) It has also become a familiar word when talking about Martin's and my sweet little daughter, Lily. Lily is delayed. There is something wrong with Lily. There, I said it. For so long after she was diagnosed (well we're still looking for an actual diagnosis), I couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud. And that confession is going to come as a shock to any of my long-distance friends who only keep up with me via Facebook. On there, I've never even hinted that something was wrong with her. Every picture that I post of Lily features her impeccably propped up against something along with some misleading caption to make it look like everything in my life is perfect. I really haven't even been that open with those around me. I am sure others noticed that Lily wasn’t exactly doing any of those things that a typical six-month-old, one-year-old, or even two-year-old should be doing. And I knew that they knew. But it was (and is) just hard for me to fess up and explain why at two and a half she still doesn't hold her sippy cup and drools CONSTANTLY! I've had no problem talking about her if someone flat out asked me what was wrong, but if I said it first, it felt like I would be accepting that there would never be any change and that my daughter would be delayed forever. That's the other problem with the word delayed. It connotes that eventually she will "catch up." But the truth of the matter is that she will probably be…(gulp)...delayed for the rest of her life. Time will tell, but so far time is telling us forever.
1 day old
2 months old

I've come to learn that a FAIRYTALE existence is relative. I know of only a handful of people who appear to have a fairytale life, and I'm sure their lives aren't exactly fairytales either. I know that we all struggle, that we all have setbacks, and that more often than not, we have more in common than we think. My story is not written by the Brothers Grimm and it may not fit into the traditional definition, but it is my fairytale. Sure my journey into the continual unknown stills finds me feeling lonely and isolated at times, but those are the moments when I find myself down on my knees praying for help and answers. And it is after those darkest nights that I usually wake to find the brightest mornings. Of course, that doesn't mean that all of a sudden my life becomes normal. It just means that faith steps in and reminds me that the Lord never wanted us to be normal or ordinary in the first place, and through trials like these, He is molding us into something extraordinary.

And so I begin this blog. Not only is it my story, but it is Lily's too. Through it, I want her to understand the intense love I have for her and I want others to be inspired by the person Lily is. I also hope that those who struggle raising a child with a disability can come to my blog to find a kindred spirit and hopefully a few good laughs to lighten their load that day. I want you to know that you are not alone and that there is HOPE. I see it every morning when I wake my daughter. And despite whatever setbacks or delays life continues to throw at me, I'm going to keep on pushing toward my happily ever after.

Here are a few photos of our family so you can get to know us a little better.
Martin and me right after we got married.
We were off to some sort of gala.
Our first New Year's Eve together. Ringing in 2008 as a married woman!
We are tried and true BYU fans.
Lily, her big sis and my step-daughter, Meredith, and Martin.
 (Meredith...not so much a BYU fan) Sorry, Mere.
Christmas 2010