Now in her seventies, Lisbeth looks back on a life of unexpected – but fulfilling – twists and turns. “I have two adult sons who have fulfilling lives despite their disabilities,” she says. “Our daughter has married and presented us with two beautiful grandchildren. As a teenager, I didn’t foresee any of these events.”
As a teenager, I can’t remember ever thinking I’d marry and have children. I was going to be an artist or an academic or a career woman.
What happened? Life.
I met a man who distracted me from my personal plans. We married but, as the main earner, I never thought that starting a family was an option.
Then one month I missed my period. We were disappointed that I wasn’t growing a baby, so we started to try for one.
About a year later, a son arrived. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was scary bringing him home and knowing I would have to go back to work in a few weeks to pay the bills. But in those days, I thought anything was possible.
I went back to work and started to realise that my child needed more support to help him grow and thrive. I then began to realise my goals and that of my husband were quite different.
We struggled on for a few more years, but eventually, we separated and divorced.
I was still working full time, and with the help of my parents and childcare I was managing, but my son started to show signs that his development was unusual.
He was still not speaking, and he would bang his head when frustrated. He spent a long time smiling at the wind rustling the leaves on bushes, but didn’t respond to his name or make eye contact.
So began a long journey to a diagnosis of autism.
I was lonely. I assumed my life would not include a partner.
But I was wrong.
I worked in the same office as a widower who has a son with Down syndrome.
We filled a void in each other’s lives.
We married and had a daughter two years later: a near-instant family.
I semi-retired and I spent the next forty years working on committees in organisations, trying to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
Now in my seventies, I have two adult sons who have fulfilling lives despite their disabilities. Our daughter has married and presented us with two beautiful grandchildren. As a teenager, I didn’t foresee any of these events.
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”