Holiday 2011 - How Did I Get Here?
Do you ever find yourself wondering 'How did I get here?' That's how I felt last month at my daughter Kathryn's prom. Her sister and I couldn't have been more excited, but what mom doesn't get all hyped up and sentimental for her daughter's first formal dance? From the moment my ultrasound showed she was a girl, I had visions of slumber parties and prom dresses in my head. After she was born and I was told she would never walk or talk, let alone dance, I figured 'prom' probably wasn't in the cards. So you can imagine our sense of joy, anticipation,and anxiety when we learned that a prom for teenagers with special needs was scheduled here in San Diego.
As a teenager, had I known that one day I'd be at my 19-year-old daughter's prom, cleaning her up in a restroom stall after a most unfortunate 'incident' during a most unfortunate time, I might have curled up in the fetal position and never gotten up. (Hence my 'How did I get here' moment.) Interestingly, though, I felt none of the feelings you'd think given the situation. Kathryn's sister, Ann, was with me to help, and instead of our feeling overwhelmingly horrified and grief stricken, the situation only further cemented our bond. As irreverent as it may sound, we actually found some humor in our 'plight,' and by the time the three of returned to the dance floor, I'd even go so far as to say we felt rather empowered.
After the evening was behind us (it took three of us to keep Kathryn from bolting, so we weren't there long!), I was curious as to why we weren't feeling traumatized (believe me, if you had witnessed us in the restroom, you'd understand my curiosity!). As I talked it over with a friend, we wondered if when we experience every huge challenge by being fully present, without checking out in one way or another (through alcohol, prescription meds, over-eating, etc.), it serves as a form of inoculation, boosting our emotional immunity and enabling us to handle the next unsavory experience with just a little more ability than we had before.
It's never easy to face huge challenges during the holidays though. If that's what you're experiencing this holiday season, my hope is that you might consider any unfortunate event as a moment to experience, knowing that as trite as it sounds, moments do pass, and by holiday 2012 (if not sooner!), chances are, you'll be stronger, wiser, and even more healthy than you were before.