"She embraces life not completely understanding every detail that surrounds her, but she has an eye and an ear for the little details many of us take for granted or never pay attention to."
I have never come across a more truer statement when wishing to describing our sweet Ashley Kate to the world. Dave and I were instantly drawn to it the moment we read it. I knew exactly what the author was talking about. Exactly. This is my Ashley. My beautiful, happy, content with the world she lives in Ashley.
Our spring break plans fell through and what we had planned for our children just didn't happen(and probably never will, but I'm really ok with that). Instead of making the trip we had hoped to we scrambled to come up with a destination at the last minute. Not really having time to plan a real vacation we were led to this place. This amazing place called Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio.
The experience was so very special. More so than words can really describe. My best advice would be to go. Just go. Whether or not you have a child with special needs you need to go. For when you are there you will have the opportunity to be blessed and touched beyond your imagination. You just will. Your heart will hurt and it will be happy all at the same time. Its an amazing experience. So very emotional.
Morgan's Wonderland is an amusement park of sorts. A place designed with special needs individuals and their families in mind. It does something for our children that no other place on earth has done. It allows them to be "normal". It allows their disabilities to become "invisible". It allows them to be one of the many.
It allows them to become a regular kid for just a little while. Although it may sound contrary to what most of us want for our children(Not wanting them to be an individual but to be one of the crowd). I believe that for those of you who parent a special needs child you will know and understand exactly what I am saying.
The day we spent there Ash became just a little girl. No longer was she "the" girl in the wheel chair. Or "the" girl who made silly noises. Not "the" girl who signed rather than spoke. Not even "the" girl with a tube coming out of her tummy and leading to her back pack. She was just a girl. Another little girl playing at the water table, swinging at the park, riding the train, or waiting in line for the carousel. I think that is what blessed me the most. For once being able to be in a place and not try coming up with answers to others questions, not giving explanations, or needing to ignore innocent glances and confused faces. I could just be. Be there with my family and breathe deeply knowing every single family in that place understood. It felt so good. It truly did.
Blake and Allison really enjoyed themselves. They played with Ashley and ran around without a care in the world. Dave and I were so blessed. We are so blessed. We have three amazing children. We really do. The work that God has done in the hearts of our oldest two through the struggles of our youngest is a beautiful thing. They have a patience, an understanding, and such a compassion for others who have disabilities. I love to watch my son interact with these precious people. Young and old. Especially those who are older and have minds of the younger. There is a tenderness and an understanding in his eyes. As he stops what he is doing to hug our 15 year old neighbor boy who lights up each time he sees us outside, or as he answers the same questions over and over again without becoming frustrated with him my heart is blessed and I thank God for the heart He has given to Blake. I asked him late that evening what he thought of the park and his answer was so true. "It makes me happy and sad all at the same time. Just like Ashley does."
His answer describes my heart on a daily basis. I am SO happy to have our sweet girl in our lives. To have her home and stable. To see her learn and grow and accomplish new things every single day. Her laughter is infectious. There are no words to describe the amount of joy that wells up in my heart. I too am so sad. Sad over the things she doesn't do, and may never be able to. My heart is broken as well as joyful. It is how I have learned to live. Hide the sadness and celebrate the joy. It is not often and not with too many that I ever share the hurts anymore. I've learned to guard my words and my writing through very tough lessons over the years, but there are a few whom I can let my guard down with for a little while and just share. The tears flow over silly things such Kindergarten, writing her own name, and soccer practices. The silliest of things in this life. All things she should be doing at this age and isn't. I'm still learning to handle the disappointments in her life and realize that she isn't disappointed.(I think I'll always be learning this lesson because I'm a mom.) Not even for a moment. We are the ones who hurt for her because of these things. She doesn't even know about Kindergarten and name writing. She does know about soccer and loves to watch Allie or play ball with Allie, but she's not aware that she should be on that field with her ponytail bouncing up and down with all the other 4 year old beauties. So its ok. It is.
Ashley embraces life. Every. Single. Day. She wakes up smiling. Goes to sleep smiling. She spends her whole day smiling. Just like our neighbor. Blake shared with me the other day, "He makes me happy because he is happy." Then Allie said as we pulled away from our drive way with him still standing in our yard waving to us, "I'm not even sad for him or Ashley anymore cause they aren't sad about who they are."
Morgan's Wonderland was a blessing to us and a great way to spend a Friday.