In 2003 I learned a lot of wisdom from the Pixar hit movie, Finding Nemo. A lot of wisdom was tucked into animated catch-phrases that were often quoted. (Sorry, Kacie. As my roommate, you bore the brunt of the quoting. Good times.)
As most couples do, my husband and I recently had a slight squabble over an off-hand comment that had deep implications. He asserted that I am a Dory. He didn’t mean it as a compliment. I didn’t catch his meaning. This was my first hint that he was right. A full personality assessment ensued. I married a Marlin. I am a Dory. Dory is “a delay fish” who “slowed Marlin down”. I boldly and vehemently reminded him in Marlin’s own words that he needed Dory’s help every step of the way and never would have made it to Syndey without Dory. Marlin is sensible. Dory is fun. Marlin is too uptight. Dory forgets things instantly. Marlin stays focused. Dory reads. Marlin can’t tell a joke. Dory can’t play I-spy. Take a moment to pray for our marriage, would you?
Thanks to my 3 year old I am once again enjoying the waters of the EAC and the characters of the coral reefs. I’m coming face to face with a few hard truths.
My blog is called LaughMoreAbundant. I’m an extrovert and sit-down-comedian. It is my best coping mechanism and personality trait. However, this is a really not-funny time of my life. Clinging to joy is a fight right now. I have my shining moments on display, but getting through the rough moments with a joke and a smile is hard. For a clownfish, I’m really not that funny. Be patient. I’ll get it. I need friends, not anemones.
For example, yesterday I was sitting in the doctor’s office with The Conqueror. We were playing happily in the crowded waiting area when a kind, older woman walked slowly by on a cane. She turned around and started a conversation, quickly offering her services as the new clinic psychologist. I was happily minding my own business and boom, someone wants to rush me into a therapy group. My hair was done. Make up on. Clean and matching outfit. Cute baby with a mohawk. Friendly smile and upbeat attitude. Child who “didn’t look like he had DS.” Ma’am, fish are friends, not food. The last time I tried attending a group for parents of special kiddos I was greeted by fish who had never eaten a fish. It wasn’t helpful.
Then I made the most important and horrifying realization: I am slowly slipping from the Dory side to the Marlin side. I’m becoming the hyper-senstive, nervous but well-meaning parent of a kid with special needs parent!
Between life’s tragedies, barracudas and normal scary stuff, I let going out on my adventure feel a bit like this:
Anytime I go anywhere with a child, I must be prepared to discuss what is different and how it impacts us. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it was a bigger issue for Marlin than for Nemo.Interestingly, no one defined Nemo by his Lucky Fin in the movie. It helped the plot twists, but it wasn’t the sum-total of Nemo.
Thankfully, I find a lot of help along the way. Finding other parents who are swimming on a different current can help. A lot. They make the ‘swirling vortex of terror’ fun.
With a 3 year old that is catching up on his speaking skills, there is a lot of this:
When things seem difficult and hopeless, everyone needs a Dory. Who else would we know to just keep swimming?
Right now life is a balance of both Marlin and Dory. I am trying to just keep swimming while remembering to find fun in the whales of life. Speaking whale is kinda fun and it does freak out everyone around me. Marlin fights for his kid, stops at nothing and undergoes a major transformation during his adventure. Dory forgets things almost instantly and has some scars from unfortunate jellyfish encounters but darn it, she can read and get people to 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.
This is a hard adventure. On the way to finding your son you can face oceans, sharks, meetings, explosives, great escapes, getting devoured, darkness, stings, needing directions, new currents, fear-facing, wild rides,feeling swallowed whole, a lot of people saying, “Mine!”, wondering if your kid is going to make it, saving your friends, and finding your way home.
Stay tuned for the story. ” This is going to be a good, I can tell!”
Just keep swimming.