Missing the Me I Might Have Been

On the way home from a special needs event I was actually able to talk my daughter into attending, we stopped at Starbucks drive through.

As I waited in line, I watched people getting out of their cars and going inside. Families laughing and enjoying the Florida sunshine.

Most were probably tourists, since I was about 15 min from the gates of Disney World.

We got our drinks and then I hopped on the interstate to head home. We had a really good day today.

Casadee attended the special rodeo and had an awesome cowgirl buddy who somehow knew exactly what to say and do to get the most out of her. I always appreciate special people like that so much.

Casadee even rode the horse which she hadn’t done since she was around 8!

As we sat in traffic and Casadee played on her iPad, I soaked in the beauty of the day.

The sun was shining, it was around 75 degrees in mid-February, typical sunny Florida. And then out of nowhere, just for a moment, I thought about what it would be like if things were different.

What if I were headed to the beach to lay in a beach chair and soak up the sun. I imagined listening to the seagulls and other people’s children play.

What if I was one of those tourists staying at a local resort, getting prepared to head to one of the Disney parks for the day.

Suddenly an extreme sadness washed over me and I missed the me I might have been.

The me I would be if I didn’t have to constantly adjust my life to fit this child’s needs.

I could decide on a whim if I wanted to drive to the beach. I could easily plan vacations and weekend getaways.

I could go out to lunch with friends and dinner with my husband. I could run to the store anytime I wanted for as long as I wanted.

I would be planning for her graduation right now and getting her ready for college.

I might be looking forward to the empty nest or maybe even be sad that my baby was all grown up.

For a moment, sitting in that car, I imagined it all.

And then I looked over and saw my baby girl, almost 18, still wearing her cowgirl hat and bandana, watching her YouTube videos. But this is the life I was given.

I haven’t been able to just go when i want to go for at least the last 10 yrs.

Casadee is autistic and suffers from anxiety which severely limits what I can and can’t do. Last time  I took her to the beach she was around 12 and she refused to get out of the car.

I sat in the car with her to let everyone else enjoy some time on the beach before driving over an hr back home. She has refused to go since.

I actually tried Disney again 2 weeks ago and she made it through one character meet and greet and one show before the anxiety kicked in and we had to leave.

My husband and I take turns staying with her while the other goes to the store. If I do take her, it’s all about what she needs and making sure she’s ok so there are no leisurely trips.

Traveling poses a whole other set of challenges and unless we have assistance and a set agenda that will likely work with her, we don’t even bother.

Being her Mom has always been a sacrifice and she has always come first. That person I might have been only exists in that moment in time, sitting in that traffic jam.

But the real me, her Mom, exists because of her and I kind of like me. She continues to teach me how to be strong and patient; how to be loving and kind.

And let’s be honest, I’m glad I got to skip the teenage girl years full of boys and driving and worry.

I may not be the me I thought I would be, but sometimes I think I‘m even better.

Written by, Tammy Twenhofel

My daughter Casadee is 17 with a diagnosis of Autism and Mitochondrial Disorder.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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