Aidan goes to Prom
I have a lot of strong feelings and opinions about prom in general. I will spare you my soap box, but as I share pictures of Aidan’s prom I must share two thoughts.
I knew prom was coming up this year and I purposely put it out of my mind. It was too emotional for me. Then I got a message from his teacher saying Aidan needs to go to prom. She was right and I knew she was right. I’ve always been a believer in inclusion. Aidan should have the opportunity to participate in school like any other kid. I needed this nudge.
So my first thought is this – parents get a lot of accolades about championing their children (and we should because we work our butts off), but we can have blindsides and limits. We sometimes need others, teachers and other professionals, to give us a little push. And we should count ourselves fortunate when those people push us with just the right amount of grace, care, and persistence.
And speaking of inclusion, this wasn’t just about inclusion at school. Aidan’s cousin Maddy wanted to go with him. And before you get all starry eyed about what a shero Maddy is for taking her disabled cousin to prom (JUST DON’T!!!), realize that they do life together, even though it looks very different. They’re family. They show up for each other. Maddy is a whole long list of fabulousness but she doesn’t take pity on her cousin one bit; she loves and adores him.
Second, I was in a very different head space for Aidan’s prom than I was for Liam’s and I realize that I parent from a very different part of myself. It feels so obvious to say this now but it’s worth some reflection. My thoughts of Aidan’s prom were all centered around fear and managing the circumstances. Will he stay awake? Will he be able to handle the music? Will he have seizures? What can I do to prepare for every possibility? Every typical milestone will always be tinged with a spot of grief with this one.
I spent a year doing the hard emotional prep work (therapy) for Liam’s senior year and launch. I worked to be fully present and because of that, I experienced joy. I dip into another part of me when it comes to Aidan and those same skills are not accessible to me. I have to fight myself for my role as mom, which means loosening the reigns of control and the role of manager.
The one gift I gave myself is pictures. I know that professional photographs make all the difference and I wanted this moment recorded even if I wasn’t fully present for every layer of it. When you have a kid that stands out, uses a wheelchair and has only one pair of shoes that are ridiculously bright, you make it a statement instead of hide from it.
Aidan had a blast. He repeatedly rolled closer to the speakers and when Maddy told me to come pick them up at 10pm, (three hours past his usual bedtime!) Aidan turned back toward the dance floor. The only extrovert in a family of introverts. My little party boy.
(My friends Debbie and Sue took these pics and I can’t recommend them highly enough, especially if you have a sort of tricky subject. Contact me for more info or contact Sue directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)