Friday, January 13, 2012

What Does it Take to Have a Good Life?

Today I'm thinking about what it takes to have a good life. Some would say enough money, a good job, a college education, a happy family, a moral lifestyle, good health, or a host of other things. And to have more stuff, a nicer house, a fancier car, and a more good looking spouse than our neighbors is even better! We push our children to do well in school, play sports, learn languages or an instrument, and more so that they can live a better life than we as parents have. I live in an area of the country where kids go to school and then go to tutoring right after so that they can be the best in their class. Tiger moms are everywhere!

This morning I had to take Ms. D to finish up her cognitive testing. I already wrote of how the therapist hinted that Ms. D's IQ is fairly low. I'll find out more later, though Ms. D mentioned that the testing was really hard and she totally sucked. Her words. I tried to encourage her by saying that questions like those are given to adults and they don't expect you to know all the answers. But deep down, I fear that because of the FAS, she's probably always going to struggle to learn, reason, and make good decisions. Will she have enough ability to live on her own? I don't know. I'll try to teach her as much as possible, but would she be able to make budgeting decisions? Would she be able to understand housing contracts? Hey, if I'm to be honest, I wonder if she would be victimized, struggle with addictions, or get pregnant as a teenager because she has difficulty making decisions. I'm doing my best to teach and guide her, but last year's issue with the birth family contact has really made me wonder if she'll be OK.

Although Ms. D has difficulty thinking abstractly or logically, she is gifted in other things. She is amazing with animals. I can see her working as a dog trainer, a dog groomer, or even a vet tech someday. She is wonderful with little children, and actually is even better taking care of them than many young mothers. She is a very hard worker, and sometimes cleans the house or does her homework without being asked to do it. She is a beautiful and loving daughter. So if having a good life is to have a job, she should do fine.

But even if she isn't able to hold down a job or live on her own, I still think it's possible for her to have a good life. Because I'm learning, through my kids, that having a good life is not about being richer, smarter, more "successful" than the next guy. It isn't being more morally superior and being able to follow all the rules to the tiniest principle. I'm learning that having a good life is knowing and loving God, loving others, and in turn, being loved by God and others. All the other accomplishments that we humans do are extras. They are gifts from God. They can bring joy to our lives. But those things aren't our purpose for living. They aren't why we are here.

There is purpose to every single life. And everyone, no matter the IQ, income, health, or anything else, has the ability to live a good life. Even my kids.

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