Whenever there is a special occasion or an achievement we love to celebrate together don’t we? Parties, nights out, large family gatherings. Cakes, candles and balloons. From cute 1st birthdays, through sweet 16, prom, exam results, new job, housewarming, weddings… it’s all mapped out like a lifetime dot-to-dot of celebrations.
Yet how hard it can be to join in with celebration occasions and get togethers when there are so many potential obstacles and triggers, too many impossibilities or improbabilities! When eating a meal is challenging, or when leaving the house is difficult, or chatting with people is too demanding. Or if a group of people is just too stimulating or noisy, or a health risk. Then celebrating the way that we think we’re expected to is just asking for a major set-back and upheaval, not the joyful treat it’s supposed to be!
Surely there’s a different way.
What if I could feel free enough to plan a personalized celebration for my children’s milestones and achievements? What if I could put to one side the expectations and start from the result I want to see.
I want to see my children feeling loved, special and relaxed – able to be themselves and to shine in their own strengths, able to feel comfortable enough to actually enjoy and take part in an activity with others. I want them to be comfortable and relaxed enough to be able to process what’s happening and to see how proud we are of them, not so overwhelmed and overloaded that they are on the verge of shut down or melt down.
I may have to be brave and allow myself to think outside the usual expectations. I may have to be courageous and give myself permission to do it a little differently. Perhaps to take a deep breath, acknowledge that it’s not going to be what I’d always imagined and that pulls on the heart strings sometimes, especially when there’s always an opportunity for comparison. I try not to notice the differences most days but when it comes to key milestones it’s nearly impossible to ignore.
Sometimes I feel a little grief for the celebration I’d always half imagined, had always assumed would be that way. Different can feel really isolating and awkward, but different can also be wonderful. If I can find the courage to let go and step into new ways of celebrating together that my children can feel more relaxed and more excited about, different might even be better than I could ever have dreamed.
Written by Cathy Porter