So here's my attempt to recap (without having to go "into it" over & over again) :-) These will be simple, brief overviews of what I learned in each session...I am more than happy to discuss with anyone should they have questions or would like more info, etc...
While at the Down Syndrome Conference we attended 3 breakout sessions.
The first (1 of 3) was "Creating a Long Term Vision for Your Child with Down Syndrome".
Presented by Bridget Murphy - DSG Board President.
As Young Professionals, both Joe and myself are very aware of how important setting short term and long term goals are. We have set (and re-set) many as it pertains to education and professional advancement, etc. As a marketing/Ad/PR professional I have assisted several clients, across many industries, in establishing goals and objectives. Creating and abiding by Mission Statements and the like. But never have I thought it important to create a FORMAL long term vision for my child.
Fortune 500 Companies have Mission Statements...Non-Profit Organizations have Mission Statements...Why not your family??
Why create a vision?
* Gives you Direction (keeps you and your child on the right track)
* Holds you Accountable (some people, once a "mission statement" is created actually print it out, frame it and display it on a wall in their home, to serve as a constant reminder of what they have PLANNED and work towards each and every day - not a bad idea)
* Lessens anxiety (while setting and working toward achieving each and every goal set by you as parents, therapists, educators, doctors, etc can seem extremely overwhelming...keeping your eye on the BIG PICTURE and END-GOAL could simplify the process and lessen the anxiety of it all)
* Creates a Successful Outcome (In business, sports and of course Life, one should always visualize a victory. "Shoot for the Moon and if you miss at least you'll still be among the Stars"...I am also reminded of the Special Olympics quote "Let me Win - But if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt" and "Failure isn't in not reaching a goal, but in not having a goal to reach".
What WAS Your Dream?
Mrs. Murphy also asked the attendees to share what their dreams were. Their dreams before this diagnosis of Down Syndrome was in their lives. For you as a person, as a parent and as a family.
I personally reflected on how my dreams as a "working mother" had changed, or should I say had been derailed slightly. While I have put my "professional" dreams on hold for a while, I still have them. Right now they are tucked far back in my mind, but they're still there. And I truly feel, that some day (perhaps soon) I WILL re-set out to achieve those dreams. And who knows, perhaps Down Syndrome will prove to be a part of my new dream...I believe it almost certainly will). We shall see what the future has in store.
I also reflected on my dreams as a parent. I have undoubtedly learned to be a better, more loving, more compassionate and more PRESENT mother. I feel as though I am more capable of loving my children unconditionally. To be perfectly honest - MUCH more "unconditional" than prior to learning of Macy's special "differences". :-)
So. Right then and there. Joe and I put our heads together (pencils in hand) and brainstormed with each other. Where do we see ourselves in 20 years? Where do we see McKenzie in 20 years? Where do we see Macy? How will WE get there? Our goal is to get there with the help of family, friends, neighbors, classmates, educators, therapists, doctors, etc...with dignity and maintaining self respect.
Below are some bullet point goals for our young Adult "not-so-Little Miss Macy" (at 21 years of age):
* Be Happy
* Socially Active - have a close-knit group of friends
* Satisfying and gainfully employed
* Involved in the community (goes hand-in-hand with being "a contributing member of society")
* Family focused
* Independent/self sufficient with every day tasks
* Transitioning into a Post-Secondary Education
* Polite and Courteous
* Be Respectful and have Integrity
* Fiscally responsible & financially aware
* Goal Oriented
* Possess appropriate behavior and good overall hygiene
* Have strong Christian core values and principles
While these goals were set specifically with Macy in mind, we certainly hope for McKenzie, as well as any other children we may have, to achieve these same PERSONAL LIFE goals.
* Final goal - for me and Joe - OUR marriage and Life come first. We will try so hard not to lose sight of this. Easier said than done some days...as I know many can relate...but we must at least keep this top of mind!
Let this serve as a road map to a better & brighter tomorrow for the Harnisch Family! we reserve the right to tweak and revise as the years go by, but this gives us a good solid foundation from which to build from.
So each day, as we set out to conquer small, seemingly tedious objectives and put forth plans and strategies, (specifically with teachers, IFSP/Early Intervention teams, etc) let us reference these "END-GOALS". Let us ask ourselves "how is this going to get us to our "End-Goals"? Is it helping us or hindering us? We may need to re-think some strategies along the way to remain TRUE to our BIG PLANS/FINAL GOALS. "Sounds like Life to Me"
In conclusion - now that we've defined specific values and goals - here is our family Mission Statement. (subject to major revision - as we were very much under a time crunch at the conference)
The Mission of our Family is to have a Strong Marriage Based on Trust, Faith and Love, with Independent, Respectful and Contributing Children, with a Strong Support System of Family and Friends Helping Us Achieve Our Worthwhile Purposes.
Tomorrow (or soon at least) I will follow up with the other two breakout session topics:
"Technology on the Horizon" and "PLAY Your Way to Better Language Learning".