Early Summer 2008

Dear Friends

[''Sometimes you read something so powerful, so profound, that it affects you for a long time, changing the way you look at or think about something. The following Dear Friends letter had that affect on me. We first ran this letter in 1994, a few years after Janet's daughter Kathryn was born. Since so many of you may have never had the chance to read it, we're running Janet’s letter again. I hope you are as moved by it as I am.'' -- Ann]

Ten years ago I was ecstatic in my new role as ''mother,'' full of hopes and dreams for my new journey in life -- loving and nurturing my baby Ann. I loved being pregnant, giving birth, and most of all, getting to know Ann. But staging a repeat performance wasn't so easy. I soon immersed myself in the world of basal thermometers, ovulation kits, and fertility graphs. And then there were the miscarriages, one after the other. So when my beautiful Kathryn was born seven years later, I felt my prayers had been answered. I cried for joy when she was born and the doctors said she was okay. But as I looked into her eyes for the first time, my joy went right out the delivery room, along with the assurances of the doctor. Call it mother's intuition or whatever, but I knew something wasn't right. As the weeks went by, it became more and more apparent that something was seriously wrong. My pediatrician continued to assure me that Kathryn was fine, but deep inside I knew my journey through motherhood had taken an irrevocable turn. Finally the doctors made Kathryn's disability diagnosis ''official.'' They offered plenty of terms to describe her condition: autistic-like, severely mentally retarded, cerebral palsied.

Having come of age in an era of ''positive thinking,'' I shouldn't have been surprised by people's responses. ''Oh, she'll be fine! Think positive!'' people would cheerfully exhort. I quickly learned that it wasn't socially acceptable for me to use words like ''disappointed'' or ''sad'' to express my feelings. Well-wishers wanted to ''encourage'' me with their positive talk and philosophy. At times I just wanted to shout, ''Doesn't ANYBODY think this is sad? Is there just one person who will cry with me instead of trying to be so UPBEAT?''

At just such a time I had a dream that changed my life almost as much as the little girl it was about. The dream began with everyone around me preparing to drive from San Diego to Bellingham, Washington. I watched people wave to each other as they got in their big, comfortable cars. Beside me was a tiny, paint-chipped tricycle. Someone cheerfully told me that this was what I would be driving. As the other cars sped off down the freeway, I stood there in disbelief. How could I go anywhere on a tricycle? I was angry, confused -- and all alone. Surely it was a mistake and someone would soon be bringing me a car too. A tricycle simply wouldn't work for me. Tricycles are too small, they're slow, and well, people stare at adults riding tricycles. All of which I found to be true -- at first. But after a while, I noticed that all that pedal-pumping was creating some nice muscles in my legs, and the brisk air against my face did feel kind of good. I began to smile, and before long, children and a few knowing adults began to smile back at me from their cars.

Soon the cars could only be heard in the distance. My little tricycle and I were on a beautiful path reserved just for bikes. What joy I felt when I spotted some exquisite wildflowers beneath my feet and a beautiful stream on my right! I looked off in the distance at the speeding cars and felt fortunate to be experiencing these hidden treasures. Pretty soon, 10-year-old Ann pulled up alongside me, she too on a tricycle. She seemed right at home in our new environment and glad we could experience this unexpected joy together. ''Ann,'' I shouted, ''the sign says it's only 41 miles to Bellingham!'' I had been enjoying my journey so much that I hadn't even been thinking of Bellingham or the other cars that were no longer visible. At that point I woke up.

It's been a year now since I learned about life on that little tricycle. I'm a different person now. Yes, sometimes I feel tearful when I see a walking, talking 2-year-old and think of what might have been. But then I think of wildflowers and strong legs. I think of a quiet little path and hidden treasures. And I look at my special 2-year-old, and I know my prayers were answered indeed.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

Holiday 2008

Fall 2008

Late Summer 2008

Midsummer 2008

Late Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Early Spring 2008

Winter 2007

Holiday 2007

Fall 2007

Late Summer 2007

Midsummer 2007

Early Summer 2007

Late Spring 2007

Spring 2007

Early Spring 2007

Winter 2006

Holiday 2006

Fall 2006

Late Summer 2006

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