"You never gave up on me, you've always encouraged me, and you've always made me feel loved even when I didn't love myself."
These were the words my daughter wrote to me on Tuesday at the end of a surprise birthday party that she planned and orchestrated for me over the course of the past month.
Yes, the same daughter I write about in this blog. The daughter who has struggled with communication, learning disabilities, executive function, and a multitude of other issues for her entire life.
This is the potential I knew existed in her somewhere if we could only unlock it... and now, apparently, we have.
All the hours and hours and hours of research, all the trial and error, all the many dollars we spent on therapies and tools (and yes, even some woo-woo solutions), all the sleepless nights and worry and heartbreak and tears... it has all, finally, paid off.
And the result. Is. Stunning.
Let me tell you a bit about the party. You might think it's not that big a deal, but this is a girl who has never, ever planned, followed through on, and executed a single thing in her entire life. She has failed repeatedly at meeting any goals that she set for herself; she has never successfully managed homework or assignments of any kind--regardless of whether the assignments were set for her or by her; and she has been utterly paralyzed by anxiety in the face of any expectations (again, regardless of where the expectations came from).
And then she decided she wanted to throw a surprise party for me. So she enlisted the help of a family friend to shop for and create a fantastic array of decorations centred around a spring garden theme (because I love gardening)... all done in secret at the friend's house. She informed my husband that he had to get me out of the house--and keep me out!--for the entire day of my birthday. She hatched a plan to get access to my computer and my Facebook friends so she could send out invitations. She told me she wanted to clean the house and make dinner for me as a birthday present--and then proceeded to throw so many red herrings my way that I secretly made plans to order take-out in the event that everything went south. She asked a baker friend to provide a cake (gluten and dairy-free). And she--who most days still relies on me to provide meals for her--planned, shopped for, and prepared food for nine people. AND, when a guest bringing a main dish had to cancel at the last minute on the day of the party, she came up with an alternative plan... without panicking or a meltdown.
And I... I came home to an exquisitely decorated house, an elegantly dressed-up (and calm!) daughter, trays of prepared food, a gorgeous cake, some of my closest friends, and the overwhelming realization that my perseverance (aka sheer, dogged determination) had paid off.
It was the most wonderful gift I have ever been given.
So if you've ever been at your wits' end, wondering if the struggle is worth it, let me assure you of this: it is. It absolutely, positively, without a doubt is. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even in a year or two or ten... but someday it will be. Because there is definitely something to be said for perseverance... and my daughter is proof of that.
"You never gave up on me..." she wrote. And she's right. I didn't.
Now it's your turn.