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I Will Not Drive a Van

Lindsey Hughey by Lindsey Hughey Additional Needs

Lindsey Hughey

Lindsey Hughey

I am a mom to a wonderful 3 year old girl with CP and Epilepsy. She is our only child right now, so she is our world.

It is always the odd things I seem to have trouble really accepting.

It is rarely the overly obvious things that most people see and feel sorry for us for.

Nope, it is always something crazy, something you don’t expect, something completely random.

And it usually comes out of nowhere.

It’s been well over a year ago, maybe even closer to two, when my sister and I were out shopping one day.

We were in the kids clothing section, and I walked a little too far into the older girls clothing.

I was trying to make my way back to the infant section when I happened to notice a stand with little girl’s underwear.

For some unknown reason, I stopped in my tracks and just stood there staring at them.

My sister finally found me and asked what was wrong.

I tried to shake it off like it was nothing.

But being the persistent person that my sister is, there was no changing the subject, and I finally confessed that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to buy our daughter underwear.

She assured me that it was too soon to know that.

I agreed with her, but for the rest of the day all I could think about was the real odds of ever being able to potty train our daughter.

It was quite unlikely I’d ever be buying her underwear.

This really shouldn’t have been that big of a revelation.

At the time this happened, I had already come to accept a lot things: our daughter would never leave the nest; we would never celebrate her wedding day; if we didn’t have other kids, we would not be grandparents; walking would be very hard for her but maybe not impossible; speech would come a little over time, but most likely it would be limited and aided by a device; and a wheelchair would be a necessary part of life.

Potty training was just another to add to the list.

So, naturally I wasn’t expecting to be thrown that day in a retail store walking past underwear in the children’s section.

This same kind of thing happened to me again recently. I’d been driving around a Jeep Grand Cherokee for several years.

For just me, it was all I ever needed in a vehicle.

It sat up high enough so that if I ever “accidently” ran over a curb I would not tear anything up.

I loved the way it drove (even after a few encounters with the curb). The seats were comfortable and I had the radio presets like I liked.

I knew it inside and out and I was completely content.

For longer than I should have, I fought the need for a different car that could actually fit our special needs lifestyle.

So what if we were breaking our backs trying to get our 30 pound daughter in and out of her car seat.

So what if we had to take the wheelchair completely apart to get it in the car.

So what if we had to put everything in just right if we wanted to also get her gait trainer in there.

So what if we were crammed into the car like sardines every time we took a trip.

It was MY car. The reasonable side of me knew we needed a van. I knew a van made more sense than anything and it would make my life easier.

But it felt like I was giving up the last part of me that felt normal. I knew that once we bought a van, that is what I’d drive for the rest of my life.

And I wasn’t ready to accept that.

Even if it was my reality.

But you know the interesting thing about normals? They can change and adapt.

And if you give it long enough, almost anything can become a normal. Like having a child with special needs for instance.

After you’ve done it long enough, you don’t really know what life is like without it.

So, I finally broke down and we bought a van.

And you know what I’ve figured out?

This van suits me better than any other vehicle I’ve ever owned.

It’s really my spirit vehicle because I’m an extremely practical person.

On top of the van being ridiculously functional enough to handle all of our special needs requirements, it’s also just functional at everyday life.

I’ve always been notorious for buying something big and not having a way to get it home.

This has happened on more than one occasion and has caused a few small fights throughout my marriage.

But the same weekend we bought the van, I was able to haul home a piece of furniture (that would not have fit in my jeep) with ease.

And just the other day, I made a trip to the home improvement store to get 8 foot boards.

They were no match for the van.

I didn’t even have to hang them out the back window, and they weren’t up in the front seat with me as I drove home.

Sometimes I think when we are hit with something out of the blue, it helps to try to change perspective a little.

That’s what I’m working on with my van.

Sure, it’s not my Jeep, but in a lot of ways (and not just for special needs) it is better.

This Mama is now a van owner (even though when I was much younger I swore I’d never be), and it is really not so bad.

Life is all about accepting the things we really can’t change and embracing the things we’ve been given.

I’m sure six months from now, my van will be my new normal.

And I think I’m going to be okay with that.


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