“Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” This quote could have so many meanings to so many people depending on what they’re going through. For me, it made me realize that I spend too much time in the past.
Have you ever noticed that when you look back on memories from your past, it’s actually the little things that come to mind first? Looking back on my life, I don’t see a collage of all my big memories. Instead, I see a flash of little things that seemed somewhat ordinary at the time. However, it’s those ordinary moments that turned out to be incredibly memorable.
Sometimes I feel like that poor little kitten in that famous poster. “Hang in there,” it reads, as the sweet little kitty tries to grasp that tree branch with all its might. Apparently, this poster is supposed to be motivational. I see it more as a reminder of how hard life is, especially as a Duchenne parent. It reminds me how isolating this life can be, and it makes me realize just how important it is to have support from others who truly understand.
We live in a culture of noise. Everyone wants to talk, but it seems like only a few want to actually listen. I’ve learned so much from being a Duchenne parent. Many other Duchenne parents reach out to me, and I know that the most helpful thing I can do for them is to simply listen. I don’t tell them how to feel or give them unsolicited advice. I just make sure they don’t feel alone.
I don’t often find myself wishing for a normal life. I love my life, and I don’t see the point in trying to envision what could’ve been had Duchenne not entered into our lives. I try to accept my life just as it is and find joy in it, but somedays I do have moments of sorrow.
I live with one foot in the future. My life is a constant dance between hope and fear. I have the privilege of raising three incredible children, two of which have a degenerative disease. My days are full of joy, but they are also full of the most agonizing kind of pain I’ve ever experienced. I watch as day after day my boys grow weaker and weaker. My daughter is gaining more and more abilities as she grows stronger, while her older brothers are continually losing abilities they once had. Duchenne is a cruel form of torture.
he other day I was in the worst mood. Everything trivial felt heavy and exhausting. Laundry, dishes, homeschool, work, cooking, and cleaning piled up and left me weary. I was tired, worn, and just sick of my own thoughts. The dog chewed something; I yelled. Someone made a mess; I sighed like I was trying to let the neighborhood hear me. I cringe thinking about how ungrateful I sound, but it’s true. That day I was whiny, irritated, and full of self-pity. It was one of those days.
It felt like we were thrown into a raging unfamiliar sea with no idea how to swim. Drowning in emotions, grief, and paperwork, we struggled to adjust to our new life. We were being asked to make decisions about things we knew nothing about. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
As a Duchenne parent, there is so much that I wish other people knew. There are so many misconceptions and incorrect assumptions that make life even harder for someone like me. Most people in my life are incredibly loving, supportive, and understanding. Their presence means the world to me, but there are moments I wish I could make things a bit clearer for the rest of the world.
Sometimes difficult moments sneak up on you as a Duchenne parent. Conversations you didn’t expect to have so soon, moments that knock the wind out of you with their presence, and events that just feel like a punch to the stomach. The sudden loss of an ability that seemed so far in the future shows up without warning and takes your breath away. My husband and I refer to these moments as “gut punches.”