Music has always been a source of peace for me, a symphony of emotions and experiences, but bluegrass music has never been a genre I have ever felt particularly drawn to. When I decided to attend the International Bluegrass Music Association festival, my intention was more to enjoy the outdoors on a beautiful fall day rather than to lose myself in the music. I wasn’t expecting to find joy in the musical part of the experience. However, what unfolded was nothing short of magical. The vibrant strains of a fiddle, the rhythmic beats of a banjo, and the rich chords of a guitar are the essence of a bluegrass festival. Strings of a fiddle, beats of a banjo, and the resonant chord of a guitar are the hallmarks of a bluegrass music festival. The foot-tapping rhythm and soulful lyrics can take you on a journey, connecting you with an inexplicably profound sense of life in its many shades. Much like this unique genre of music, parenting a child with chronic illness is a journey full of ups and downs, crescendos and decrescendos, but ultimately, full of love and strength.
The things I witnessed from this bluegrass festival served as poignant reminders of the lessons I’ve learned as a mother to a chronically ill child. Here are a few pearls of wisdom from the vibrant and spirited world of a bluegrass music festival:
- Every Instrument Has Its Role to Play
In a bluegrass band, every instrument—whether it be the fiddle, banjo, guitar, or mandolin—each has a unique and irreplaceable role. Similarly, in the healthcare arena, every professional, from doctors and nurses to therapists and nutritionists, contributes to the well-being of your child. Learning to coordinate, communicate, and collaborate with them can lead to harmonious outcomes.
- Improvisation is Key
Bluegrass music is renowned for its improvisation. The musicians read the crowd, sense the mood, and spontaneously create beautiful music that resonates with the moment. I watched this happen. Parenting a chronically ill child also requires this knack for improvisation. Plans may not always pan out, treatments may need adjustments, and life can throw unexpected curveballs. Being flexible helps to navigate these challenges with grace and resilience.
- The Show Must Go On
A bluegrass festival is a grand spectacle of relentless passion. Attendees came from all over the country to participate and nothing was going to stop them. The show goes on, irrespective of minor hiccups or major downpours. One singer was recovering from bronchitis, but he sang anyway…and it was awesome! One mandolin player was late for his band’s performance, but he jumped on the stage and started strumming even though it was the middle of the song…and it sounded perfect. The spirit of resilience forms the core of life as a parent with chronically ill children. Despite the obstacles and setbacks, it’s crucial to keep moving forward, keeping hope alive and your child’s spirits high.
- Embrace the Community
A bluegrass festival is not just about the music; it’s about the community. It’s about dancing together, singing together, and forging unforgettable experiences together. Similarly, don’t isolate yourself in your journey of parenting a chronically ill child. Reach out to support groups, engage with other parents facing similar challenges, and lean on your family and friends. This community can be your most reliable comfort zone, offering emotional, mental, and practical support.
- Find Joy in the Journey
Amidst the toe-tapping rhythms and soul-stirring lyrics, bluegrass festivals encapsulate the sheer joy of living in the moment. I witnessed people clapping, swaying, and dancing forgetting that anyone else was even around. It was sheer happiness! As a parent, it’s essential to find joy and happiness amidst the challenges. Celebrate small victories, cherish precious moments with your child, and remember to take care of yourself too.
As Marc Chagall once said, “In our life, there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.” Like the vibrant palette of a bluegrass festival, life, even with its challenges, is a beautiful composition.
In the face of chronic illness, your love, resilience, and strength are the most potent notes in your child’s symphony of life. May this melody resonate with hope, courage, and an unwavering spirit, creating a masterpiece of a life well-lived and well-loved.
What lessons of resiliency can you find in your day?