What’s the best part about making lemonade?

Pouring the mixture over ice in a tall glass and then taking it out to the porch. To sit on a rocker or swing and take sips of the refreshingly cold drink. To pass it along to a friend as you catch up on all the latest news.

For the past two months, we’ve been exploring the metaphor of transforming the sour experiences of having a child with special needs into lemonade. My favorite part is the sipping and the sharing that comes at the end. The time when we can reflect back on the journey and savor the victories. Remember the lessons learned and recognize how much we’ve grown.

I am a recovering perfectionist. Unless I scored 100%, it wasn’t good enough. And I felt I wasn’t good enough. At least until God brought Anna into my life and I discovered the beauty of imperfection. My daughter didn’t need to achieve in order for me to love her. Progress was more important that achieving. So I learned to relax and cut myself some slack.

Refreshing sip number one.

Anna has far surpassed the prognosis of “probably” walking and talking. She runs track for Special Olympics and reads at a second grade level. There are days I wish she’d stop talking … especially the tattling and whining parts! I love watching her celebrate after winning a game of Sorry or Uno. She has an amazing memory for dates and events … and a smile that can light up a room.

Sips numbers two, three, four, five, and six. And beyond.

Don’t even get me started on the sharing part of being the parent of a special needs child. Support groups, online forums, and more give opportunities to pass along the encouragement and strategies I gleaned from those who walked this road before me. Coffee with a new friend. Passing a box of tissues. Listening to another vent their frustrations.

For me, the sharing aspect of making lemonade grew into a book and ebook to encourage other parents raising children with developmental, behavioral, and/or health needs. One reviewer called it a virtual support group!

And, can I let you in on more exciting news? Next June, I’ll be offering this same encouragement to a room full of parents at the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation’s National Conference.

After mixing sour lemons, sweet hope, siblings, and everyday life within a pitcher of support and waiting for the flavors to blend, it’s time to pour a glass. Take a sip and enjoy the finished product. Share some with a friend. Then get back to work in the kitchen of life processing the next batch of lemons.

What about you? Share a “sip” of lemonade. What good things came from the initially sour experience? What advice would you give to someone just starting the journey?

Sip and Share
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