"She hadn't made her life happen; it had happened to her."
-Kate, The Expats
So much of life is about the choices we make. One decision leads to another and another, figurative (or sometimes literal) forks in the road.
I've never lived abroad. There are relationships I should have ended sooner, and others I should have fought harder for. I might have chosen to live in New York City after graduate school, rather than come back to California. I've never lived in the heart of a big city, though I've always wanted to.
I've had interesting jobs, married a good man, had children. I left my career to raise my kids.
There are smaller decisions too: bought this car instead of that, ordered the chicken instead of the fish. Some decisions are more important than others, of course. I've made some good choices and some bad ones. Some I wish I could do over and others I wouldn't change. But for the most part, these choices were mine to make freely.
I sat down to write this, thinking it was going to be a post about what happens when the choice is no longer yours. Because although I chose to be a mother, I didn't choose to be the mother a special needs child. I didn't choose to have a child with autism. And while I can tell myself that I can choose how I deal with the situation, sometimes I feel like my emotions are not truly under my control. While I aim to stay positive and hopeful, sometimes I am overwhelmed with despair, fear, and most of all, frustration.
But it struck me that the hardest part about parenting Moe is not the lack of choice. It is quite the opposite. Jeff and I have so many choices to make. What therapies do we try? Do we send Moe to school? If so, do we fight for a private placement? Do we try medications? What AAC device are we going to choose? Who do we trust to guide us through all of this? Most of the time we are on our own and flying blind.
Of course we have to make many decisions for Jelly, but the right ones always seem to be a bit clearer. And the smaller ones seem to matter less. I don't mean to sound flippant about parenting her, but I am more confident in my instincts there - or at least that we will figure out pretty quickly if we've made the wrong ones.
I am thankful we live in a time when we have options for Moe. But sometimes the decisions become overwhelming. There I days I really wish my most difficult decision was "grande or venti?"
This post was inspired by mystery thriller novel The Expats, by Chris Pavone. Kate Moore sheds her old live to become a stay at home mom when her husband takes a job in Europe. As she attempts to reinvent herself, she ends up chasing her evasive husband's secrets. Join From Left to Write on January 22 as we discuss The Expats. As a member, I received a review copy of the book.