Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Can Do Anything I Want To

Today I went with my husband, a high school English teacher, to watch some of his students compete in a speech/debate tournament. Halfway through, some professors and other debate coaches came in to speak to all the students. One coach in particular did something I will never forget. He asked everyone in the room to stand up, and repeat these words (a few times, actually):

I am gifted

I am unique

I can do anything I want to with hard work and discipline

He then emphasized that no one else can replace you, no one else can do what you can do. And that if we want to go far in this life, we need to incorporate hard work and discipline. Pretty inspirational words to share with high school students who are learning about their gifts and what it means to work hard and stay disciplined. But what about a mother of three in the room, who also happened to be listening? Did it mean anything to me? Oh, you bet it did.

As a mother, of course I first thought of my kids after we recited these phrases. Are my kids gifted? Are my kids unique? And can they really do anything they want to with hard work and discipline? Tonight I'll just talk about Julianna.

Is she gifted? Yes, without a doubt. She is funny. She is determined. She loves to have a friend, and be a friend. She's getting better at horseback riding. She loves to ask questions. And she truly loves others. I have only discovered a few of her gifts and hope to unlock many more. This is not easy to do when so many of her gifts can be overshadowed by her inability to focus at times, and to stay calm under pressure or stress.

Is she unique? This one goes without saying. Almost every doctor who has evaluated her says she is one of the most unique children they've come across. Her different diagnoses under the spectrum are so broad that she's high in some areas, but very low in others. Every child on the spectrum is unique; that's what makes it so challenging to unlock their individual potentials.

But the last phrase had me really pondering: can she do anything she wants with hard work and discipline? Perhaps, but that depends on what she wants to do in this life. What I do know is that almost anything she wants to do will be much, much harder to do than the typical person. The hard work and discipline she will have to put forth will be more than anyone else realizes. In school, for example, her aide is frustrated every time there is an awards assembly, and Julianna doesn't receive one. She was almost in tears once because she knows how hard Julianna works to learn the same things that almost come naturally to other kids. Do I believe Julianna can do anything with hard work and discipline? Honestly, I do, but a big part of that belief comes in the many, many people working with her, including myself.

By the way, I just asked her what she wants to be able to do when she grows up. Here's what she said: to brush my hair and do my hair, to play songs on the piano, to put on clothes by myself, to put on Chapstick, to get married, and to take care of a baby. I like those goals, Julianna. We'll start working on them now.

As her mother, I am willing to put forth the hard work and discipline as well in helping her reach her full potential, whatever that may be. No one else can do what Julianna can do, and no one else can help her like I can.

So grateful for little insights into my life as a mom, even at the most unexpected places.


  1. Our beautiful blessed she is to have you as her beautiful Mommy...incredible! I hope to live to see all her dreams fulfilled...and Heavenly Father may let me do just that! xoxo