Lauren Guin on Shifting Perspectives
My 20s were filled with amazing accomplishments and wonderful memories accompanied by complete heartbreak and an abundant amount of grief. I thought surely, after watching my favorite person on earth succumb to a four-year battle with cancer and then going through a divorce at 26 while living hours away from my family, I had endured enough hardship for a while.
My Mawmaw was not only my closest friend but my hero. It was astonishing to watch her go through all the pain and suffering of chemo treatments to finally be told, “There’s nothing we can do.”
But to see her stay positive and still give glory to God forever changed my perspective.
I went on to get married, but the honey-moon phase faded fast. I found myself alone quite often and was eventually served divorce papers. My ex-husband told me that he just couldn’t envision himself throwing a ball in the front yard with kids. What a painful way to end a marriage.
I was ready for some good news, or at least no news at all. So when I met my now husband, all I could see were good times ahead. On our second date, he casually talked about wanting to be a dad and how he had always seen himself throwing a ball in the front yard with kids. It really put things into perspective for me, and I had never been happier. God knew exactly what he was doing, and it wasn’t long before we were married.
Fast forward several months, and I was pregnant with our baby boy. We were over the moon to find out about our blessing.
What I thought had been a typical pregnancy quickly changed when I was about eight months pregnant. I had been told numerous times that I had a perfect, healthy baby.
But all of a sudden, we were at the high-risk doctor staring at the ultrasound and were told “Your son has spina bifida. He’s not going to walk. He will need a wheelchair. He’s not going to have any bowel or bladder function.”
It became all about perspective once again. I could either label myself as the poor special needs mom, or I could change my perspective with “I get to do this” rather than “I’ve got to do this.”
When my brother found out our son was going to need surgery right out of the womb and would possibly never walk, he was so angry. I remember him saying, “You’ve already been through so much. Why would this happen to you?”
My amazing husband had the best response – “Why not us?” If anyone could handle special needs parenting, it was us. I am an occupational therapist and my husband is a first responder, so we knew our son Eli would have a great combination to help him every step of the way.
Unfortunately, I was still subjected to questions like “Did you take your prenatal vitamins?” and I’ve gotten my share of comments from people apologizing because I ‘drew the unlucky straw.’ I always take the opportunity to tell them in fact, it is quite the opposite. My child is perfect, and I’m blessed to be his mom. I did mourn the child I thought I would have and had to forgive myself for feeling responsible, like somehow it was my fault that this happened. But I remembered how important perspective is.
So, when I went to my husband to propose the calling I felt for us to become foster parents, he thoughtfully asked, “Why us?” (along with a lot of what-ifs.) I remembered his answer to my brother and said, “Why not us?” We are already special needs parents, and these kids have their own needs that we could help meet.
Our foster care journey began, and now 10 kids have come and gone in our home. It has not been easy. We have endured so much heartbreak and the system is broken, but every child has been a blessing. To know just a small glimpse of what these kids have been through in their short time on earth really changes your outlook.
It’s been said before, “For every challenge, there is an opportunity to learn and grow.” Eli is now three years old and is the most loving, entertaining, and determined child. Watching a toddler navigate life while also being paraplegic is so humbling. I am also expecting a baby girl in July and couldn’t be happier to watch our family grow. I know more challenges will come, but my positive perspective will remain the same.
Lauren Guin, Signal Mountain