An incredible and honest account from our Jack & Jill mum Joan, whose son Leo featured on the front page in the Irish Times last week at the launch of INCOGNITO 19.
“Life takes you by surprise somedays ….
Seeing myself and Leo on the front page of today’s Irish Times had an unexpected effect on me.
I feel amazing, I’m excited by life and I feel happy with where I am right now. It’s not that long ago that I wrote about how sad I get sometimes and quite honestly that sadness has permeated many of my days of late. I think deep down I felt resentment that I’ve been forced into this role as Leo’s carer, that my life was a bucket of manure compared to the roses I had so lovingly planted and tended to over the past 20 years of adulthood.
I had worked hard to become a Physiotherapist, undertaking two undergraduate degrees back to back, spending nearly 10 years in university, then working in some of the best hospitals in the country to gain the skills necessary to become the best professional I could be. I completed a diploma in healthcare management so that I would have the skills to make that transition and ultimately I saw myself being at the coal face of healthcare planning. Being at home caring for my disabled son just wasn’t where I wanted to be, I had plans and life had just served me a good old dose of grown up.
Sitting here thinking about it I’m pretty sure my inner teenager has been moping around sulking but today I feel like a grown up again, I am so proud of myself but more than that I am so incredibly proud of my beautiful boy. Once again this little Angel has held a mirror up to me and I’ve been forced to look at myself ….. I may be at home caring for him right now but it doesn’t define me. I’m still that kick ass, articulate, intelligent woman that may once have presented at clinical conferences but today we were on the front page of the Irish times …. when have I ever made more of an impact on peoples lives than yesterday and today as Leo’s mum?
Leo has no expectations of the world, he looks at everything and everybody with wide eyed joy and acceptance for who they are. He loves every single moment of human interaction he has, adoring the social connections of touch and facial expression, my Angel may never learn to speak but he is already more articulate than I could ever hope to be. His smile and laughter lights up a room, even a room full of strangers like yesterday.
The beautiful photographs of Leo and Paul that I have shared here were brought about by Leos love of people. Paul came over to say hello and I would imagine to test the water and see how this mini human would react to a strange man towering above him, so he waggled a finger at Leo’s hand to say hello and with that Leo laughed excitedly, reached both arms out and lunged forward for Paul to take him. So he did and the rest you can see in the pictures, they speak volumes, of a connection Leo felt and created between him and a man that my mother would have adored to meet was she still with us. A man who happens to have a grandson of a similar age and whom is also called Leo…….
So there you have it, life takes you by surprise sometimes and these days I’m learning so much about myself, about life and what it means to be a parent caring for her son. I can make it whatever I choose it to be, sullen teenager raging against the unfairness of life or a grown woman embracing the adventure and facing it without expectation. To accept it for what it is and find the joy in the little things especially the human connections we make. Yesterday Leo taught me that while in the grand scheme of things I may not have a big important job nor might I be the most successful person in the room but I can be a beacon of light to those that come after me on this unexpected journey, because at 19 months old, Leo the Angel Lion had a room full of successful people with very important jobs firmly in the palm of his hand using only his smile and love of life. I am Angelmom strong” ❤️?❤️