One thing I cherish about growing up in Trinidad and Tobago is how much we rely on proverbs or our sayings. Some only we Trinbagonians understand, like “Monkey know what tree to climb“and “Cockroach have no right in fowl party” and others are plain and simple to everyone. I love how we lean so heavily on sayings to pass on sage advice. One saying my mother uses often is “One door close; ‘nother one open”. This is the theme of my life (and the lives of all we Barsotti’s coming to think of it) and the lives in the players of this family of 4, Tom and I created. I see it all the time, in our jobs, in opportunities, in the kid’s school life, their sporting life and in our relationships with people. Sometimes, it is hard to see so many doors closing for us when we look around at all the easy avenues others are able to take but it is in times of disappointment I am able to reflect on all of it; every single thing we have gone through and I feel a warm and uplifting sense of satisfaction and accomplishment because in this family of four we have walked through many doors, tripped and fallen down the stairs and climbed back up again, albeit with a little limp now and again and the best part is. through a strong binding love, we walk through a wider door that leads to new possibilities, things that are more suitable and beneficial to us.
You can’t worry about what you didn’t get. You can only hope to be ready for what is to come. This is a hard and harsh world. It is filled with beautiful places, people and things that dangle before us and we reach out time and again, arms open wide, fingers outstretched hoping to touch what we want just a little, because if we do, just maybe we can grab onto it and have what we want to make us feel good. But sometimes, what we want so badly slips through our fingers and is once more just ever so slightly out of our reach. We are hurt and we become sad, disappointed, angry and sometimes bitter and jaded. What we must always be aware of is what we do with the pain of disappointment. We can allow it to fester and consume us and eventually have it cut us down and destroy us or we can remember the powerful sting of that pain and use it to fuel us to pick ourselves up and persist. When we get up, and get out of bed and realize we are upright and breathing, we’ve already won another chance at life. Each morning you are alive and well is another step closer to achieving anything. Being alive gives us another opportunity to do good, pursue a dream and make a difference in the life of someone else.
I belong to a unique and unofficial club of people. If anyone should be on Valium and booze to get through a day, it should be the parents of children with special needs. Sweet Jesus, wanna talk about closed doors? We live in a world of doors slamming shut every single week and instead of a drink, most of us choose to take a minute to breathe before going to the drawing board and starting again because we have to – for our children, our families, for ourselves. There is no time to wallow in self pity or dwell in disappointment. There is only time for thinking, analyzing, re-starting, doing things differently and re-directing because if we don’t, everything and everyone in the family will come to a halt and most certainly will crumble. This is why I have very little patience for bull shit. I often see it a mile away and I am prepared for it most of the time and I am trying to teach my sons how to do the same. I have even less patience for people who shield themselves and their families from disappointment because when those people have the shit hit the fan, they throw their arms in the air and look to more prepared and realistic folk to help them out. They will talk to anyone who will listen as their mole hill becomes an epic tail of the most treacherous and difficult mountain ever climbed. Call me cynical, but over the years I have had more people come to me for help for the most trivial of things, never mind I was trying to keep my sanity while I raised an autistic child and tried to raise another child in an environment that was not solely about his brother’s condition. I find these people to be selfish,weak, attention seekers. I don’t mind giving advice or listening to someone, (after all, I have had people do the same for me) but don’t like when people waste my time with nonsense they absolutely can sort through and rectify with a little effort.
We live in a time where some of us who are parents try to shield our children from disappointment at all costs. Creating a perfect world for children and spoiling them beyond belief are two gigantic steps towards their world shattering into millions of pieces the first time they feel the sting of disappointment. Today, so few young people know what to do with themselves when they do not get what they want because they feel they deserve everything. Parents today want to be so unlike their own parents, they remove hard work, effort and accountability from their children’s lives and so we have created a couple generations who have a remarkable and detrimental sense of entitlement. No one deserves anything until they have earned it. The fulfillment of hard work as is purer and greater than the temporary satisfaction of buying your way through life or having things handed to you only to mishandle them and eventually lose them. Nothing can take the place of achievement through effort and so many young people are missing out on such bliss. Instead, for our youth, their world ends about 80 times a day, much like that of a toddler, and when it does their parents do whatever it takes to make it better.
The way the parents in my extended family have chosen to parent our children through the disappointment they sometimes face is simple and perhaps may seem archaic to some. When they get hurt, we embrace them and comfort them with our words (the proverbial band aid if you will). We listen, we explain what we can and what we cannot, we chalk up to being out of anyone’s control, bad luck and well…the roller coaster that is life. Once the pain settles in, we observe them day to day and once some time has passed we check in and find out how they are doing. We find out what they have decided to do with it the pain and then once their confidence seems boosted we rip off the band aid by not feeling sorry for them and telling them to get to their feet and walk towards a new door.
They may not find the new door right away, but with one year to fifty, in my experience, IT WILL BE REVEALED and when it is, they are encouraged to kick that door open and bravely walk through. People need to realize that nothing that is easily given to you will ever be as fulfilling as the the thing you worked hard to achieve. Nothing can compare to the spoils of grinding it out and leaving all of yourself out there. I think there is a satisfying sweetness when you discover for yourself how great you really are at something and on the contrary there is something unsettling and icky about having your life handed to you gift wrapped with a big red bow because when the bow is untied, everything it kept together comes apart and shatters to the ground. If you are not used to picking up the pieces and putting them together again, then you just end up disappointing yourself.
While another saying I use to help me deal with disappointment is, “This too shall pass” my husband prefers using “The best is yet to come.” A natural optimist, I know in his darkest moments he is always able to pull positivity out of any situation and he moves forward, every time. He’s better than I am because while I too have the ability to move forward, I tend to pull out bitterness and anger as side dishes to my positivity (it’s quite convoluted and I’m working on remedying that – lol). From time to time, I read the words Tom said to me when we renewed our vows on our 10th wedding anniversary. They are words of truth and strength and of course love. They are words that came about because of the unexpected adversity that hit us with Adam’s diagnosis and words that remind me that with love there is strength and courage and there is nothing we cannot overcome especially when faced with the pain of disappointment.
“This is an incredible ride we’ve been on. Ups, downs, fast, slow and even derailing once or twice. But I believe a ride isn’t worth it if you know what’s coming. The only way to truly enjoy a ride is to NOT know what is coming and to be able to ride it out when it becomes chaotic and random. I promise I will love and raise our children to drive us crazy as they push every boundary they can and that I will raise them with the intention that nothing will hold them back, and if anything tries to hold them back they must fight it relentlessly.”
Tom said many things in his vows that night and they were beautiful and strong and just … solid and believable. He promised us that in spite of all the hard times we have had and are still to have, our lives would be based on integrity and hard work, failure and success and never would we be able to say our journey was boring. With one year to fifty, I can safely say we have had bad times but the best times were the moments after things went awry; moments when we took the time to do nothing but breathe and the moments when we regrouped and started over.
So to my children who may read this at some time, I say this as the Trini mother that I am (dialect and all) :-
My dear sons, Adam and Logan, remember, “Laugh and cry does live in the same house” (what you love can also bring you pain) but you are both resilient and “all crab does find they hole,” (everyone find’s their way and their passion along life’s journey) remember “goat doh make sheep” (you are our children through and through) and just like us, you have what it takes to draw from your experiences and right yourselves. Embrace life all of it, the bitter and the sweet and you will be fulfilled by the things that were the hardest to come by. I promise you. ~ Love you forever, my kind, generous, strong and fearless sons ~ Mom.