John and Ronan have been preparing this past year to enter martial arts tournaments with their Tae Kwon Do Sparring mates. The first tournament finally presented itself this past weekend as IMAF at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Naturally, I wanted to be present for John’s and Ronan’s first tournament. But was this a place for Riley? Likely not, and it was preferably an overnight stay in Kissimmee. It seemed that there was more sparring going on in my head than on any mat. How could I leave Riley for a weekend? He has not been apart from both of his parents since his NICU days in 2002. Let alone the concerns of finding and paying an overnight caretaker, I would like Riley to participate in his family’s activities as fully as possible. But John and Ronan also need to experience their lives and have moments of total focus without the constant details and cares of Riley, no matter how completely they love and appreciate his presence. This time we were fortunate to have an overnight guest for Riley he has a true bond with, a great comfort for each of us.
I have heard a special needs mother explain to me her hopes for her child to self-direct her life. Do I wish this for Riley – of course. Do I believe that will ever be the case – of course not. His life is tied to ours and we are fully invested in each other. On this occasion , we determined that Riley would remain behind. I do not want this to become habit. Riley has a difficult time taking in his environment in his own space, how is he to know that I am miles away thinking of him and monitoring every moment? He deserves our attention at all times. Fortunately, I knew he was well cared for throughout despite the last minute nurse change for the Saturday shift.
My hope for the future is that we all begin to get around and enjoy life together… this is progress in any event. Thankfully, Riley had the company of a true friend who cares for him deeply to see him through the night. For John, Ronan and I, we were able to experience a camaraderie beyond our immediate family which has been missing from our lives for some time. I believe we returned to Riley recharged.
These matches were difficult for my to watch, this is a first effort for everyone in our group. As their experience broadens perhaps I will toughen along with it all. Ronan has discovered that many Olympic Style Sparring Competitors of his age group take sparring quite seriously and train with a vehemence he is unaccustomed to. John has found – well, he looks forward to the next tournament as much as he did this one…
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