Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Moms

I received an email from my sister in law. I hope she won't care if I share it. Her words are eloquent (indeed, I may ban her from reading my blog) and speak right to the heart, enjoy:

I was at work the other night in labor and delivery, and the couple that I was working with was expecting their first child. They hadn't done an ultrasound to see what they were having, so when we got close to delivery the doctor asked the mom what she wanted 'it' to be- she just smiled and gave the universal answer . . . "I doesn't matter whether it's a girl or a boy, I just want it to have ten fingers and ten toes." Of course, that's what she says. That's what mothers have always said. Mothers lie.

Truth be told, every mother wants a whole lot more. Every mother wants a perfectly healthy baby with a round head, rosebud lips, button nose, beautiful eyes and satin skin.

Every mother wants a baby so gorgeous that people will pity the Gerber baby for being flat-out ugly.

Every mother wants a baby that will roll over, sit up and take those first steps right on schedule (according to the baby development chart on page 57, column two).

Every mother wants a baby that can see, hear, run, jump and fire neurons by the billions. She wants a kid that can smack the ball out of the park and run so fast that the other kids are left in his dust.

Some mothers get babies with something more . . .

Some mothers get babies with conditions they can't pronounce, a spine that didn't fuse, behaviors they can't explain, an extra chromosome or a palette that didn't close.

Most of those mothers can remember the time, the place, the shoes they were wearing and the color of the walls in the small, suffocating room where the doctor uttered the words that took their breath away. It felt like recess in the fourth grade when you didn't see the kick ball coming and it knocked the wind clean out of you. In some ways a relief to have a name to put with the pain, but at the same time you know that your world is about to completely change.

Some mothers leave the hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months, even years later, take him in for a routine visit, or schedule him for a well check, and crash head first into a brick wall as they bear the brunt of devastating news. It can't be possible! That doesn't run in our family. Can this really be happening in our lifetime?

I am someone who watches the Olympics for the sheer thrill of seeing finely sculpted bodies. It's not a lust thing; it's a wondrous thing. The athletes appear as specimens without flaw - rippling muscles with nary an ounce of flab or fat, virtual powerhouses of strength with lungs and limbs working in perfect harmony. Then the athlete walks over to a tote bag, rustles through the contents and pulls out an inhaler.

As I'm beginning to learn in nursing - there's no such thing as a perfect body.

Everybody will bear something at some time or another. Maybe the affliction will be apparent to curious eyes, or maybe it will be unseen, quietly treated with trips to the doctor, medication or surgery.

I watch with keen interest and great admiration the mothers of children with serious disabilities, and wonder how they do it. Frankly, sometimes you mothers scare me.

How you lift that child in and out of a wheelchair 20 times a day.

How you cry for your child when they struggle or are in pain.

How you monitor tests, track medications, regulate diet, do pin care, and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred specialists and insurance companies hammering in your ear.

I wonder how you endure the clich├ęs and the platitudes, well-intentioned souls explaining how God is at work when you've occasionally questioned if God is on strike. And continue to endure those well-intentioned souls when you can see yourself simply punching them and walking away.

I even wonder how you endure emails like this one -- saluting you, painting you as hero and saint, when you know you're ordinary. You snap, you bark, you bite. You didn't volunteer for this. You didn't jump up and down in the motherhood line yelling, "Choose me, God! Choose me! I've got what it takes." You're a woman who doesn't have time to step back and put things in perspective, so, please, let me do it for you.

From where I sit, you're way ahead of the pack. You've developed the strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a flower. You have a heart that melts like chocolate in a glove box in July, carefully counter-balanced against the stubbornness of an Ozark mule.

You can be warm and tender one minute, and when circumstances require intense and aggressive the next.

You don't pretend that things are perfect - you admit to the ups and downs.

You are the mother, advocate and protector of a child with a disability.

You're a woman who wanted ten fingers and ten toes, and got something more. You're a wonder. I admire your strength. The world could do with more amazing people like you.

Thank you, Kassie! I have many mom friends with *special* children, some I've met because of the circumstances with my own children and some I've met through my work with Early Intervention. I cherish my ties with these strong women and I hope they enjoy this post ;)


Prilla said...

Amen! You are great! (And she totally made me cry)

Jason K B said...

Kassie you really are gifted with the creative stuff. Your words expressed so many of the feelings I have about Jamie and how amazing she is and has been through this adventure (ordeal). Thanks for the note.

Daniel Rigby said...

Thank you for this...from a Mum who has a little boy with Congenital Short Femur who is currently fighting to get funding so he can get his fixator off after major hip reconstruction, this brought tears to my eyes but lifted my spirits. Thank you. Kristen.

Gracie said...

Just WOW!