There are about 800 copies of Involuntary Joy in circulation. Those of you who have read it know that it tells the story of my first five years of motherhood. But it is not only a mommy memoir. It recounts how Mark and I met and how we forged the earliest years of our marriage. It also shares what happened to us individually as we navigated the perfect storm that Stross' birth set in motion, and how we learned to grieve things that we couldn't fully understand we had lost. Perhaps it also shows how we - somehow - have managed to stay together.
My motivation for writing Involuntary Joy was simply to tell a story that life had not yet allowed us to share. I sensed there were countless other families in the same situation - wanting people to know what had happened to our lives because of a child with extraordinary needs. I was simply willing to bare it all. To write things that people sometimes fear to say aloud.
It struck me that I did that again this week by sharing my day-by-day account of what it took for us to get Stross through Boy Scout Camp. These blogs have come the closest to me writing the sequel to Involuntary Joy that I sometimes get asked about. And unlike a book, you get the videos too, so you can see and hear Stross for yourself.
Maybe there will be a real sequel to Involuntary Joy one day. I don't know. I guess I would first have to know that people would really want to read it. But please know this. I am deeply thankful to those of you who traveled our Boy Scout experience with us. You dared to share in our vulnerabilities, and I trust that you - in some way - felt it worth your time.
I believe it is too easy to look, smile, and then either say or think something like: "I don't know how you do it." Or, "God never gives you more than you can handle, does he?" Or, "I admire you. I sure couldn't do what you do." Or even, "Such a blessing. God knew what he was doing when he gave Stross to you."
When I mentally prepare my response, I always - always - resist the urge to rebuff. I know that the person who is sharing the statement intends it as a compliment. I know that. I do. But it always feels like Mark's and my experiences have been lessened in someway - edited to a manageable Hallmark After School Special.
What I hope to accomplish whenever I write about Stross is to invite others to really share the stuff of our lives. It's my way of saying:
• Do you really want to know how I do it?
• Have you ever taken the time to really consider what you would do, the choices you would make, how you would live your life differently because many things you took for granted are no more?
• Do you want to know what I think about your notion of a providential God?
• What is your idea of a blessing? Let's compare notes and allow me to show you how far down the rabbit hole goes.
So, thank you, again, for taking the time to share in our lives this past week as we lived through the range of emotions and experiences of Boy Scout Camp. I am strengthened by your companionship on our family's journey.
When I get the chance to speak to students, educators or medical professionals, I try to explain what it means to live as if life is ready to swirl into a perfect storm. It may seem cliche, but it remains the best metaphor I have for sharing the turmoil of life with a child who has disabilities. Finances, marriage, employment, friends & family, faith - it all regularly gets thrown into turmoil around some issue that places your child in the eye of the storm.
If you know of a family who is also moving through life amid a perfect storm, please share this series with them. It might renew their hope in the future as it has for me. Or it might, simply, let them know they are not alone. And, if you are able to share with them any new insights it has provided you about how they might be moving through life, your words will come as a valued gift. Remember to use these words: "Is that how you might feel too? I guess I haven't known."
I don't know when I'll have such a series to share again, but I will continue to regularly post about our everyday lives. I look forward to "seeing" you whenever you come.
Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 1
Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 2
Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 3
Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 4
Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 5
Stross Goes to Scout Camp: Day 6