Recently, a friend directed and produced a radio play. She generously and lovingly included a role for my daughter and asked me if she would like to participate. Not only was my daughter thrilled, she chose this as the activity she would most like to do on her 17th birthday. The part was simple and despite it being a “radio play” in which everyone would read their lines, we found a wonderful costume complete with sparkly skirt, feather boa and gilt rose wand. She memorized her simple lines and was ready and eager days in advance.
The day before the big event, I asked my friend, the director, could she please just let my daughter sit by her and give her a little poke if she wasn’t sure of her cue. As each of my daughter’s lines followed one of my friend’s speeches, this seemed simple enough. Her response: “Oh no, that is your job. You will have to be onstage with her to do that.”
We want so much for our children to be included. But, does that mean we must always be there to make it happen? I just wanted to sit in the audience and enjoy her like any other mother. I just wanted to relax and have fun. My daughter has lots of experience in theatre, she reads perfectly, and does readers theater all the time at school. My friend’s assumption that I was needed, that my daughter was less than fully capable, was hurtful and disappointing. Her assumption that I would of course be there taking responsibility when it could so easily be done by someone else, was just plain disappointing.
And yet, I had been the one to ask for that little extra help. At seventeen, my daughter is becoming a confident young women. But, she is still my child with special needs, the child I have protected and fought for all her life. She still has so many challenges to overcome each day outside the shelter of our home. I suppose that most mothers must feel something similar when their children venture out on their own. But our children can stumble so easily and bruise so deeply. These tiny triumphs are the joys of our life; but, it is oh so hard to let go.
Somewhere between the look on my face and the performance, my friend found the truth of the situation in her heart and cued my daughter, lovingly and with grace. I had front row seats and the show was a success for all. If only my sometimes typical teen just hadn’t glared at me for something totally different the whole time, the evening would have been an utter delight.