Monday, October 12, 2015

Lessons Learned from the Passenger Seat of a 1978 GMC RV

My husband has become a bit obsessed with RVs.  So much so, that he decided to take his parents RV and make it road worthy for our family.  I support and love my husband, so I went along with this knowing it would bring memories for our family.  When my husband asked if I wanted to ride with him on the first ride out to get gas, I just laughed.  But I went.  I wanted to support him.  I laughed as I watched people look at us because I could only imagine how silly we looked.  They were not as impressed with the outside appearance or the loud noise or the constant smell of gas, I don't think I was either! 
                                               Here is a picture of THE 1978 GMC RV!

We took it home, only getting stranded along the road once; a blown tire and smoking coming from the under part of the hood.  No big deal.  We had two sleeping children and one that could not pull her eyes away from the I-Pad.  A quick trip back to the local gas station with some needed supplies and we were up and rolling again.

We had to clean the inside of the RV and it was a family affair.  Our oldest girl was so excited about the manual roll down windows.  She even thought others were "jealous" about "our sweet ride."  I listened to the girls talk about the memories that we would make in this 1978 GMC RV.

                                          Ellen wasn't kidding, this is "One SWEET Ride!"

We recently packed up that 1978 GMC RV for an extended weekend on the road.  We loaded it and had no place in particular as to where we were going.  The girls were giggly with excitement.  I believe my husband and I were just as excited.  We gave our two oldest girls a map and they were navigating our trip.  They picked the roads we were driving on and the places we would stop.

                Ellen found there was a Lake Ellen on the map, so we had to go check it out!

I realized then, it was the unplanned things in life that cause us to experience the most beauty.  It was the things in life that we never expected that give us the best blessing and the most joy.  It is the things that everyone overlooks that can be the vehicle for the best experiences.

I never thought that I wanted a child with Down syndrome, I never thought that I was strong enough to parent a child with complex medical needs.  I am pretty sure I would have never stood in that line and signed up.  However, I am glad that God knew that is what I needed.  I am glad that I have gotten the opportunity to experience it.

         A family experiencing life to the fullest, not allowing snickers or stares to get in the way!

Just like the 1978 GMC RV, it was overlooked for what it truly is.  You can snarl and you can stare, you can make jokes and comment, but until you really experience the 1978 GMC RV, you don't know what you are missing.  Judging it from the outside simply is not fair.  You will rob yourself from some of the best times.  Thinking you are better than the people who ride in the 1978 GMC RV is a disadvantage for you, because they may be the best friend you ever experience.   

If I allowed myself to say that I was too good to sit shot gun in the passenger seat of that 1978 GMC RV, I would have robbed myself of the beauty that I was about to experience.  That 1978 GMC RV took me and my family to some of the most picturesque places I have seen.  It allowed my family to cook and laugh over a campfire.  It allowed us to have memories of sitting inside of it playing games, eating food, and sleeping in confined spaces.  It allowed us to experience the love of a family as it was intended to be.

                   The 3 girls having an amazing time on our adventure in the 1978 GMC RV!

See, you can laugh and make jokes about it, or you can jump feet first and experience things that will bring you joy and laughter, make memories, and allow you to grow closer as a family.  I believe Down syndrome is no different than that 1978 GMC RV.  Down syndrome is not something that you expect or hope your child has when you are expecting a baby.  Down syndrome may not look pretty or inviting from the outside.  Down syndrome may seem ugly and scary and like a path you may not want to travel.

However, when you open yourself up to the unexpected, when you put aside those mean comments and nasty stares, you will experience beauty as you have never seen before.  You will experience love that words fail to describe.  You will find yourself on a path less traveled and it is OK.  You will realize that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. 

I have come to realize that it is a mean cruel world in many respects and sometimes you really have to search for the good.  Some people may never come to fully understand, respect, or accept the beauty that lies in that 1978 GMC RV.  And that is OK.  It is their loss.  They are the ones missing out.  And I understand that I may never change opinions or minds or attitudes about how wonderful Down syndrome is.  And that is OK too.  I need to live out my life in confidence that this is the path that was meant for me.  I need not to be ashamed of what Down syndrome is in fear of a negative comment.  Reality is, there will always be a negative comment, but Lydia is so much more than Down syndrome just as that 1978 GMC RV is so much more than its ugliness.

  If I never got into the passenger seat of the 1978 GMC RV, I would have missed out on this beauty!

I am so glad that I did not let those stares and negative comments, those snickers and snarls keep me from experiencing the beauty that that 1978 GMC RV lead me to.   I am also glad that I did not let my fear of the unknown of Down syndrome and the many false perceptions of what Down syndrome is to miss out on one of the greatest blessings my life has ever known; Lydibug.  I'm so thankful for the lessons I learned in the passenger seat of that 1978 GMC RV and how wonderfully they have affected my life.