Learning Disability - ten years ago I had no idea what this actually meant. I could have probably quoted some textbook, meaningless phrase but the reality of life for someone with a Learning Disability - that was foreign territory for me.
Then along came Daisy, our youngest daughter, with a Learning Disability as part of the package and I had a high octane tour of a very new world. Actually, Learning Disability is not really the term I would use to describe what is going on with Daisy - put more accurately, she has a Learning Ability. While the rest of my children are like super turbo charged jets, with onboard computers and fly by wire and all this amazing stuff that means that they can get from A to B with the minimum of disruption, Daisy is like a little Tiger Moth plane, bouncing around in the turbulence, with no electronics or gizmos, just her sheer will and determination to get from A to B, no matter how long it takes.
And here's the incredible thing I have learnt from my life with Daisy, not only does she learn and develop, at her own pace and in her own way, she has given me skills and taught me things that I did not even know.
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When you live with someone like Daisy, the pace of life becomes slower, you think before you speak, you have to explain everything, many times, you plan, you change plans, you drop down a gear so that they can be there with you in your life.
I have learned patience - you need it in bucket loads when you have to repeat over and over where you are going today and why in order to reassure them, or when they decide not to play ball just as you are about to leave the house.
I have learned not to sweat the small stuff - suddenly the achievement of physically getting out of the house with everyone reasonably happy is far greater than getting anywhere on time
I have learned to put things into perspective - yes she will not do Key Stage 2 SATs but she can sign her way through "Miss Polly had a Dolly" and surely the ability to sign your needs and communicate them is more fundamental than some piece of paper that no one actually cares about anyway?
I now appreciate what I have and not what I don't have - no longer am I that competitive, suburban mother running between ballet, swimming and football, I don't care about those things any more, I'm just happy that Daisy laughs when we watch Fireman Sam together, even if I have seen the same episode about a million times.
I have learned that happiness comes in lots of different ways - I mean who needs a theme park when you can sit in a car being squirted with rainbow foam at the car wash? Needless to say we have a very clean car and a weekly visit to the car wash is guaranteed to make Daisy smile.
I make the most of the opportunities just to be me, more than anything having Daisy has made me realise that I need time for myself so when she is in school or at the hospice I take time out for myself.
I have learned to slow down and listen and appreciate.......Daisy has as much right to her opinion as the rest of my children, to allow her to have her voice we have to listen, she may not speak but she can communicate.
I can't change our situation but I can manage how I feel about it. I can live in the moment, Daisy has taught me to do that. Sometimes it would be nice to be a passenger on an easy to fly jet but at least in the Tiger Moth you really do know you are flying.Suggest a correction