Sunday, September 8, 2013

The "What If" Game

The "What If" Game. Do you ever play it? I do. As much as I try not to, I do. I tend to wonder "what if", even though I'm a true believer that life "happens the way it's meant to".

Sometimes on my drive in to work, my commute will take me up to an hour. This gives me a lot of time for my mind to wander. Too much time, really. I often play this game in my head. It's a mind bender, that's for sure. Growing up, my mom used to joke about how my dad dated Barbra Streisand. My mom used to say, "Barbra Streisand could have been your mom, I wonder what you would have looked like!" and we would all laugh. I still wonder about this story and would love to someday ask Barbra if she really dated my dad. Supposedly it was in Brooklyn, New York in the mid 1950's. Was this a tall tale, or did it really happen? My mom swears it's true, my dad did too. What if they would have stayed together? I love the mystery of it all.

My dad in Brooklyn in the 1950's
My mom and I were talking last week during my long commute into work, and she brought up how I was supposed to study art in Italy my freshman year in college. I didn't realize how pissed she was that I didn't do it. She reminded me how she begged me to go, how it was an amazing opportunity for me. I just didn't go. I totally wussed out. My mom paid the non-refundable deposit, and I boaged. I had a boyfriend at the time and didn't want to leave him. She told me again what a shame it was that I didn't go. How I could have grown, seen the world, and how opportunities like that were rare for an 18 year old. But I reminded her of something. I met Jesse that fall, 16 years ago, in a screen printing class. "What if I went to Italy, mom? Jesse and I never would have met." She agreed with me, "I didn't think of it like that! I guess you weren't meant to go to Italy!"

So young and fresh!
Since we've had Ellie this thought comes up a lot. More than it should, reallyWhat if Ellie didn't have Down syndrome? What would our life be like? I can't help it. I think it's a natural instinct to wonder. I have thought about it a lot and I've come to a conclusion and I would like to explain it here. If Ellie didn't have Down syndrome we would: go boating a ton, get an opportunity to take an "adult's only" trip to Ireland, have lots of parties at our house, go on a special family vacation where we fish every single day and drink cocktails by the sunset, go on a business trip to Asia, do a complete home remodel (including a new kitchen), have to deal with our family moving away to Vietnam for 3 years (which is devastating yet exciting all at once), decide to throw Thanksgiving at our house for the first time ever, and live life to the absolute fullest. But wait... we have done all these things. 
Boating and loving it.
Fishing off the dock
Ireland, July 2013
The cousins together for the last time, the day before the big move to Vietnam
Ellie has Down syndrome, and we have done everything we ever dreamed we would have done. I never thought this would be possible when she was born. I was so scared about the "what ifs"... but I'm finding that it's better than I could have imagined. The relationships with our friends and family has deepened. We have met families that we have a connection with that is indescribable. We never would have met them otherwise. I have met mommies online that I connect with on a level deeper than I've ever experienced. I have met mommies in real life who I already know will be lifelong friends. Our souls are connected, because of Ellie. I can be me, I can be real, and I can tell them my fears and hopes for Ellie and I am understood. I really feel that this is the way our life was meant to turn out. I am so grateful.

I leave Tuesday for a business trip to Asia. Jesse will be with all three kids by himself, and I know he will do great.  We are finishing up our remodel in the next month. We have gotten the OK from our families to throw Thanksgiving, a first for us. And it'll be both of our families combined so that'll be a first too! We have many more adventures ahead of us, and many more firsts.

So when I think about the "what if's" I will be reassured that I am exactly where I'm meant to be. I am grateful for the path my life has taken. I am excited for the challenges ahead and the joy that my three kids will bring me. I can't imagine my life any other way. I also think about that Italy trip, and how I never went. And how when Ellie was born the big talk was the "Welcome to Holland" story. About how raising a child with a disability is like thinking you are going on a magnificent trip to Italy, but instead you end up in Holland. Which is beautiful too, it's just different. Well I'm finding that having Ellie is an adventure far beyond any beautiful foreign country. And I can see us visiting Holland, Italy, Ireland and Vietnam together, as a family. Just the way we were meant to all along.

Loving the sun.
Our three.
I always like to link to a song with each post, and this time I was trying to come up with one that "fit". Well I was looking through my "shazamed" songs, and found that in the past year, I shazamed this song 4 times. Did I not realize I had already heard it before? It made me laugh that I made the effort to "tag" this song so many times without realizing I had already done it a few times before. So that is why I chose this song, because I love it, apparently!

Lost In My Mind - The Head and the Heart