As children, my sister and I had very active imaginations. We recreated our favorite game show The Price is Right and pretended to be detectives searching for clues just like our favorite cop show heroines, Cagney and Lacy. Our driveway became the perfect roller-skating rink on which to choreograph routines to our Footloose soundtrack or Whitney Houston cassette tape. We made tiered wedding cake mudpies at our grandparents’ house that we begged to take home in the trunk of the car, to no avail. We loved to play “restaurant”, which entailed rushing around seating invisible people along with homemade menus, taking orders (the best days were when my parents would let us take their orders over and over), and laying out plates of plastic food for our customers. We also stayed up late to watch the Miss America pageant and after the climactic moment when the winner was crowned, we wrapped blankets around our waists as gowns, draped long-sleeved shirts on our heads as flowing hair, and pranced gracefully around the living room pretending to be beauty queens.
My very favorite game was “MASH”, a silly game all us girls played where we made predictions about any number of things: whom we would marry, how many kids we would have, and whether we’d live in a mansion or shack. In my childish mind, my future adult world would be perfect. Even if the MASH game predicted I’d marry the dorkiest guy in school and live with him in a shack, I’d just laugh and start over. The future I envisioned only held good things.
In all those days of Miss America pageants and roller-skating routines, I never dreamed that I would have a child with special needs. No one does. But the reality of life is that we don’t always get what we hope for. In fact, it usually turns out much different than the dreams we had as kids. What do we do with that? I’ve seen a number of responses, even in myself: deny reality by not thinking about it; attempt to numb emotions through self-destructive behavior; blame someone or something for the pain; see life through a filter of bitterness and anger; hide disappointment behind false joy.
What is the correct response to dashed dreams?
I'll examine this question in upcoming posts.