The Strange Place I Found Comfort After Her Williams Syndrome Diagnosis
I find that comfort comes in unique places. Maybe it’s part of the package that comes with having a super sassy and oh-so-special teenager who happens to have a chromosomal deletion resulting in a diagnosis of Williams syndrome.
When I think about where comfort should’ve come, several places pop into my mind: school — maybe at an IEP meeting where, in my wildest dreams, all went well and she was included in everything she wanted to be. Or, perhaps in the cardiologist’s office — where maybe we’d hear good news that there wasn’t really a heart defect that needed monitoring. Maybe comfort should’ve come from my family or my friends, but it didn’t because truthfully, they don’t know what to say. And if they did, would I be able to shut off all the anxiety to actually listen? No, my comfort came on a football field. That’s gotta be as rare as Williams syndrome!
I must admit, I’m not known as a parent who’s big on limiting my kid. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. Typically her dreams and goals propel me forward into circumstances that sometimes, frankly, are awkward. My daughter decided, on her own that she wanted to be a cheerleader in high school. Yep. Pom poms and all! While I will never understand why this was her goal at the time, I thought it was only fair to give her a chance.
She was added to her JV squad in the tenth grade as a sideline cheerleader. My husband and I explained to her that she would become involved in a demanding practice and game schedule, but she didn’t care. I told her she’d have to keep her grades up and do all of her homework. Again, she didn’t care. She pressed on and agreed to the challenge.
I attended every practice with her and I will never be able to convey all the fear I felt. Would the girls like her? Would she learn the routines? What would happen if she messed up? How would the coach treat her?
Three times a week, I went. I felt like her roadie or something. I took pictures and recorded videos. I watched. I hoped. I held my breath while she stunted.
The girls were to memorize their sideline cheers and routines as prep for the start of football season. You’d think it was me being put on the spot for all the nervousness I felt!
The coach and I chatted as we walked to the football field and watched the girls form two lines. We looked on as they began to call cheers. I held my breath. It was my daughter’s turn. The coach glanced sideways at me and I nodded. Much to my amazement, a small miracle happened. My daughter called the cheer and the girls followed her lead. She didn’t miss a beat. I sat there half shivering as a tear slid down my face. (Thank goodness for sunglasses!) I looked over at the coach and she winked at me.
Right then, I knew. As I sat on that field, I knew that somehow everything would actually be OK. That my daughter would indeed find her path, be accepted and carve out her life on her terms.
What more can I ask for?
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