September 16, 2019

Be Nimble

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
– Charles Darwin

Although there are many challenges to parenting a child with special needs, there are some surprising benefits beyond a disabled parking placard.  Key to sane survival are increasing one’s flexibility and to use a word much in vogue in the business world, learning to “be nimble.”

One organizational consulting firm, Ascent Advising, teaches its clients that “Rather than fight change, as humans we survived as a race because we embraced change. There is a lesson here for business leaders as well. If we build our businesses around the strategy of enduring the change around us, of surviving until the change reverts to the status quo, eventual we will fail. But if we instead build our businesses around the strategy of adapting to the change, of expecting change and then benefiting from it, we can prevail.”

I’ve taken this lesson of embracing change close to my heart. As I’ve learned the hard way in almost 20 years (!) of parenting a child with a developmental disability, I need to “expect the unexpected” pretty much on a daily basis.

Yesterday, our son’s swim teacher, Jim, sprained his elbow, so instead of swimming at 4 with Jim, he swam instead with Celia at 330. No big deal. Today, our babysitter planned to pick up him up at 3 pm from school, but she got stuck in line at the DMV, so with two quick texts, he took the bus home instead. No biggie. These two examples are simple logistical issues that every parent encounters, but on a more macro-scale, I have internalized that our son’s future will very different than what we anticipated when he was first born, and that he will continue to change and grow in ways that are impossible to know now.

What I do know is that I have to accept that nothing is certain except for change, and there’s nothing I can do to change that reality.