If you read the literature about children with disabilities, there’s one thing that parents say over and over again: take it one day at a time.

This is fantastic advice, because no one day is representative of our whole lives.

Some days are bleak and some are brilliant, but most are somewhere in between. 

There’s another great reason to take things one small step at a time: the future is a scary place. 

No-one knows this more than those facing disability or ill health. 

For us parents, it’s hard not to think about the future. 

I mean, we start doing it the moment we find ourselves expecting a precious child…we have hopes and dreams and wishes and ambitions on behalf of our children before they even greet the world. 

After a devastating diagnosis, that future becomes a twisted fairytale, either warped and blurred at the edges or cruel in its crisp unreality. 

This is why last week was such a turning point for me. 

My ‘future forays’ usually fall into one of two categories: they are either utterly, unfathomably bleak and frightening OR they’re completely unrealistic. 

If it’s not me with a bad back and Charlie deteriorating whilst Michael and I struggle to meet her needs in our dotage, it’s a wishful future where Charlie is miraculously cured and happily married with healthy children of her own. 

Both are, of course, fundamentally flawed. 

Last week, Michael had the day off work and we took Charlie – just Charlie, which is quite unusual – up to Mt Tamborine to enjoy the crisp air and autumn leaves. 

Whilst we were strolling along Gallery Walk, I spotted a Winnebago – you know, one of those caravans-on-wheels? 

It had a wheelchair lift on the back, and I playfully nudged Michael and said, “That’ll be us in twenty years’ time – you, me, Charlie, and the open road.” 

This met with a laugh from Michael, who ribbed me about my lack of love for less-than-three-star accommodations, and we walked on. 

It wasn’t until later that it hit me: this was the first time I looked into a realistic future with Charlie in it and saw something happy. 

I love showing Charlie new things, whether it’s ducks on a pond or the feel of a horse’s mane or even, someday, the streets of Vietnam. 

That doesn’t have to change as she gets older. 

Yes, it will be more complex, more expensive, and less ‘twilight honeymoon’ than we’d hoped or planned, but it doesn’t have to be less happy as a result. 

Life sends us down unforseen paths all the time, and sometimes they’re the best part of the journey. 

We can do this. 

Bring it on.

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