There is a little joke in my house. Caty loves to ask me how old I am. When I tell her I am 38, she starts to laugh and laugh. She loves to ask Grandma the same question. This is a question we have to answer and then listen to her laugh hysterically at least ten times a day.
Raising a child with a disability can be trying at times. The endless questions, laughing at the most inappropriate times, the constant battles with her learning disabilities, and her quest to be as normal as possible around kids her age sometimes can be too much to handle for her and even me. I am always caught in between loving her so much and wanting to protect her from the world to giving her the slightest bit of freedom and letting her stay at the house with her friends or cousin while I run to the store. Which usually ends up with at least 20 phone calls always starting out with MOM, when are you coming home?
Caty has a disability called Global Developmental Disorder. This disability ranges from motor skills, speech and language, social skills and daily activities. I remember the last doctor we took her to. It took us almost six months to get an appointment with him, apparently he is the best. I was so eager to hear everything he was going to say. Cat, as we like to call her, is usually shy and never liked to “show off” for the docs in the past so on that particular visit we decided it may be best to take her cousins with her, so they can see how she interacts with them. She did beautifully, and in my eyes, she acted the same as her cousins.
We waited for the doc to come back in and give us his professional opinion. To my dismay, he came in and told us that she was developmentally delayed in all aspects, and eventually she would be better off in a group home. She will never be able to tie her shoes, ride a bike or take care of herself and I would have to be her legal guardian for the rest of her life.
I remember the ride home that day. The girls were in the back seat giggling and playing while her dad and I rode home in complete silence. I think both of us were trying to process what the doctor said in our own ways, and not dare bring it up to each other.
I am a talker and my mom is my very best friend, I remember not telling her for over a week what the doctor said because I couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud. I was so angry. What on earth could this man possibly know about my daughter, he only saw her for a total of an hour. I’ll never forget what my mom told me….”Only God knows Cat’s future and I pray every chance I get for that little girl. God has given me peace that she is going to be alright. We just need to trust in Him.”
That summer, she worked so hard to learn to jump rope. I bet we went through 10 jump ropes. Everyone that came through the door bought her a jump rope. By the end of the summer, she was the queen of jumping rope. I was so proud of her. All I could think of is we are going to prove these doctors wrong.
Last summer, the kids were outside playing at Grandma and Papaw’s house when my mom said, “Crystal, can Cat ride a bike?” I looked out the window and there she was flying down the road giggling and laughing with her brother and cousins chasing her screaming Yay Caty!!! with tears streaming down my face, I thanked God for small miracles and then I said those doctors don’t know who they are messing with!!
We have our ups and downs and we will always face new challenges. By the grace of God, we will also see new miracles too. I believe with all of my heart that this little girl will be able to love and show compassion to many people some day. She knows what it is like to be in Special Education classrooms with children who suffer from Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Developmental delays and other disorders. Her special education teacher and her aide at school are the most caring and compassionate humans on earth and she can’t wait to go to school everyday to see them. She has some friends who love to be around her and I always have kids over to the house as much as possible because she loves to play! One of Cat’s favorite things on earth is going to the nursing home with our neighbor. She adores going there and runs out the door as soon as she is asked to go. I don’t know very many 12 year olds who jump at the chance to spend time with the elderly, especially strangers.
The doctors told us that she has the mentality of a 5 year old. I thought about that tonight as I watched her play with her best friends. She came up to me and said, “Mom, how old are you?” I told her 38 and she laughed and laughed. I love to see her smile and hear that sweet little giggle. Then I looked at her, Oh my goodness, this child is absolutely beautiful and she is all mine. God must really trust me to give me this sweet little angel to call my own.
Maybe we should all be like Cat. We should all stop worrying about how we are going to succeed in our jobs, or stop going through life in such a rush and never stopping to smell the flowers. So many of us spend most of our time worrying, including myself. The past few months I spent so much of my time worrying about being alone. It hit me tonight as I look at that beautiful petite curly headed chicky, I am not alone. I have everything I have ever wanted and more. I am the luckiest person on earth and I am blessed.
So, tonight I am not 38. I am a 12 year old girl playing Twister and checkers and watching Disney Channel with my best friend. We are giggling and laughing and hugging and kissing. I don’t know what the future holds for her, but I know who holds her future. I have already seen God work through her life and I know He isn’t finished with her yet.
There is a song called That’s What Faith Can Do……it says “I’ve seen miracles just happen, silent prayers get answered, broken hearts become brand new…that’s what faith can do.”