GROW Community

Here’s How We Turned our Family into a Ted-Lasso Worthy Team

Jamie Sumner
Special needs mom and author
11/01/21  6:15 AM PST

Our family has a saying whenever one of us is complaining about being slightly inconvenienced: we are a team.

It’s so simple a metaphor for family drama that it’s almost embarrassing. But therein lies the Ted Lasso appeal—the simplest, most honest approach is often the best one. Think of your favorite soccer/football/basketball/baseball team. Or if you’re not into sports, think of your favorite sports movie — Remember the Titans, Blind Side, Rudy, Invictus, We are Marshall, The Rookie. They all follow the same plot:

  1. Players come together.
  2. Players discover that they are all different and perhaps don’t like each other very much.
  3. Players lose a lot because they are all trying to be #1.
  4. Players reach a low point where they acknowledge that they can’t do it alone, make sacrifices, and admit they need each other.
  5. Players work together to overcome the big obstacle whether that be their own psyches, a bigger, badder team, social injustice, etc.
  6. Players become a TEAM and all rejoice!
  7. Somebody gets a trophy.

We don’t give out trophies in our family, but you get the general idea. Home life has to be a team effort. This is especially true if you have a disability or are caring for someone with a disability. You can’t thrive in your home environment if you are only looking out for yourself. And also, you cannot thrive if you are only looking out for everybody else. There has to be a give-and-take, a team huddle where we all agree the direction we are going and then go that way together. And where you are going is determined by your family values, or, to keep this sports metaphor going, your end goal.

Here are few things to ask yourself and your family to determine your end goal:

  • What do we want to spend our time on this year?
  • What isn’t working that we want to change?
  • How would you describe our family to your friends?
  • What is it that is unique about our family unit and how can we celebrate that?

It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday rush and rumble of routine: school lunches, therapies, rooves that need re-shingling, cars with mysterious warning lights, phones that continually push notifications. But bird’s eye view gives the most honest perspective. You see where the gaps in the game plan lie. Maybe you want more meals together. Okay, so you don’t have time for family dinner, but family breakfast? Or family afternoon snack? Maybe you want to do more for your community. Scared of the commitment?  Drop books in the Free Little Library. Sort clothes to donate. There is always a way to course-correct when it comes to what you value most. Best of all, it’s practice on working towards a goal as a family unit.

For us, this often looks like making sure each kid gets his or her own time as the focus of the family. Everybody wants to feel special. Everybody wants to feel celebrated. We need more than birthdays. We need everyday victories. So when the stables have family day where my oldest son Charlie, who has cerebral palsy, takes horseback riding therapy, we all go and cheer for him and his horse Pedro. I’ve never seen him sit straighter or smile bigger than when we high five him as he comes around the arena. When my daughter Cora writes a story, illustrates it, staples it together and then presents it like a sacred tome, we treat it as such. We gather while she reads it and we applaud and agree to listen again, for round two or three or however many she needs. When my son Jonas builds a Big Wheel circuit that takes up his entire room, trails down the stairs, and out the door, we line up to watch the magic happen, and then, you guessed it, we applaud.

A win for each of us is a win for all. This is one of our values. And in turn, a sacrifice made by each of us is appreciated by all. We have traded one kid’s sporting event for another’s. We have waited minutes that feel like hours until the one learning to tie shoes gets that last loop looped. We have skipped the narrow trails in favor of the more handicapped-accessible ones. We have ditched it all to go eat fast food in the car and drive around with the windows down because life was getting too loud. This is what we do because we are a team. Sometimes we lose, because nobody gets that balance right all the time. But losses don’t matter as much when you know you are in it for the long run. There will always be another game to play.

child with special needs
Jamie Sumner is a special needs mom, author and blogger.
Read her blog, The Mom Gene.
Follow her on Facebook.


Post Comment