A Mother's Ode to Ladera
Finding poetry in a dream diverted
by Jennifer Lendvai-Lintner
Ladera made me do it. Truly.
When my family moved to idyllic Ladera Ranch, California in 2017, we were a contentedly-complete family of four. But all the picturesque parks and playgrounds, those pools and splash pads, the enchanting community and all its amenities, gave rise to a dream that hadn’t been there before. Poet’s Park, in particular, was enticingly positioned a short walk from our new home. Its vast green space, swing set, shady play structure and picnic pavilion were so compelling that much to my own surprise, I found myself daydreaming of happily strolling with a carriage. Maybe even dusting sandy hands before delivering a snack or pushing a laughing little on a swing. Perhaps, a thought blossomed, we should grow this family.
Photo credit: Sarah Kae Photography
The Lendvai-Lintner family clusters together on a grassy section of the Sienna Botanica Trail in Ladera Ranch, California. Jennifer (mom) holds Hilde in the center. Géza (dad), Nóra (big sister), and Bence (big brother) are gathered around. Everyone is looking at Hilde and smiling.
When I broached the subject with my husband at a summer concert on the town green, mere weeks away from having two in elementary school, he snarfed his IPA. But with smooth tones of yacht rock in the background, a picnic spread before us, and our son and daughter off playing with peers, I proposed going back to the beginning and starting over with baby number three. It would take a few months to discern if this was right. Ultimately, we decided, it was.
Seldom do dreams go exactly as anticipated, and we were about to get a crash course in just that. Fairly soon into my pregnancy, we would be faced with compounding concerns. During my first trimester, we learned our baby had an abdominal breach, called an omphalocele, which carries with it increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities. My pregnancy went from blissful dream to high-risk in a flash. We were launched into a new reality very different from the serene, swing-pushing experience I envisioned. But beautiful Poet’s Park was situated at the entrance to our neighborhood; it bracketed every daily coming and going. The park, and what it represented, encouraged me to hope and believe in our dream. So I did.
Our daughter Hilde blessed us with her arrival in August 2019. Soon after birth, she was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder called Pallister-Killian mosaic syndrome. As a result, Hilde is medically complex and has significant disabilities.
When I dreamt of Hilde and raising her in an ideal enclave, I didn’t envision a slew of medical conditions, mobility devices, hearing aids, a feeding tube, or bipap breathing support. An army of specialists and full docket of therapies never entered the picture. I certainly never expected Hilde to spend a quarter of her first year in intensive care. Always uncertain and sometimes arduous, the realization has looked very different from what I imagined.
Yet, the reality we get to live is so much better than any I could have invented. During a conversation on a golden summer evening, I couldn’t have anticipated how our lives would be enriched by loving one remarkable little girl. This world of ours is spectacular. We found poetry and promise in this dream diverted.
I’ll be forever grateful Ladera made me do it.
A version of this article was published in the May 2021 edition of Ladera Ranch Neighbors magazine.