Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

What We Learn When We Struggle


My dream was to become a nurse, but the universe had a different plan in mind. As I have gotten older, I have questioned my purpose. I didn’t see it until recently.

When my infant daughter Gabrielle was diagnosed with subcortical band heteropia, and when  I witnessed her seizing time after time  feeling helpless and I asked myself,  “Why her? Why me?” Although I loved Gabrielle with all my heart, a part of me experienced mixed emotions about her condition. I lived in a “dark place” filled with bitterness, anger and negativity. I just felt so overwhelmed. Why were our lives so much more difficult than those of other families? Why was my life consumed with neurology visits, physical, occupational and speech therapy appointments while other kids were playing outside and going to birthday parties? Why did our hope diminish after every new medication failed to help?

I couldn’t see it then, but now I see with clarity: these experiences were preparing me for my life’s purpose.

Wisdom has taught me that in order to understand others,  I needed to walk through the fire, too. Without my experiences I would not be able to relate, connect and be compassionate with the families I work with. I share a similar path with them. I have found that when I meet someone who is struggling, it is easier for both of us to open up because we know the other “gets it.”  My experiences have shaped my life’s work. I can encourage others with hope and strength, whether it’s a parent with a child with special needs or a preschool teacher who has children in his classroom who have behavioral needs. I get paid to do a job I love.

I frequently have conversations with my son Jared, who will be going to college next fall. He often asks why I am not working in a field where I use my college degree. In the past, I couldn’t have answered his question. But now I tell him that the universe  had another path for me.  It wasn’t the one I would have chosen but when I got out of the way, I found that my life’s path is much more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

2 thoughts on “What We Learn When We Struggle

  1. Beautiful Diann.

  2. Thanks Janet for your kind words.