Wednesday, May 19, 2010
So this is Motherhood
We had the privledge of traveling to Atlanta for Mother's Day this year. It was lovely to spend the weekend with my mom, who happens to absolutely adore my children. It is fantastic to see the girls light up when Grammy comes around. She has made MORE effort than I ever imagined a long distant grandparent could make, and she manages to find a way to see them about every 4 to 6 weeks, so they know her well and the joy and comfort they demonstrate in her presence is obvious. We are surely blessed and lucky to have such support and family involvement. It can certainly make the world of special needs and disability easier to bear.
My mother, like me and so many women I know and love has redefined herself in her role as a parent, and now as a grandparent. When deciding to have a child, or in my case THREE, I am not sure we truly grasp the total impact these little beings will have on OUR life, on OUR priorities, and on OUR overall character and purpose.
I love my children, but sometimes I don't exactly have the same level of awe for the person that I am after having them. For most of us, the daily grind of caretaking will get easier as they age and become more independent. But for others of us, whose children will likely need a lifetime of care and assistance with the most seemingly simple of tasks, the role of motherhood shapes into something even more all-consuming and overwhelming. And as hard as we work to make sure our child(ren) is not defined by his or her disability, in the meantime, we too can easily come to be defined by our role as a parent of a child with a disability.
I still find myself saying all the time... "I never imagined I would have to ever do this" when I do things like get a handicapped parking pass, fill out forms for the state based medically dependent children's program, or still change the poopy diapers of my four year old. You would think that two years after diagnosis I would be used to it... but as our children age, their needs become less managable for one family to cope with and afford. So from time to time I can't help but see women my same age, out in the work force, going out for martinis and taking care of their pet fish... and I am admittingly a little bit envious. Even though I can fully admit that Avery (and Kaylin too for that matter) are my whole world and that all and all I am a much more authentic, aware, and true version of myself because of them.
Still... the me before them... the me who traveled and studied and read all kinds of fascinating books and lived on my own agenda... that me was pretty cool too... and every now and then I miss her. Just a little bit. And it's NOT that I am ungrateful or overly negative... maybe just a bit of a realist. God knows that I more than most can find beauty in even the most dire of circumstances.
So this mother's day more than ever I remain inspired by all the women who take on this role with grace. Inspired by those who work, who do it alone, who stay at home, who have perfectly healthy children and who have children who need a little (or a lot)of extra care... because regardless, it changes you. When you become someone's mother your life is forever different... and like anything, you can do it well, or you can fail. For MOST of us, it's probably not exactly what we expected. I am not sure you can even explain to an expecting mother how much she will love her child. It's a completely redefining kind of love. My hope is that somehow within the whole lifelong experience we can hold on to who we are... to what makes us awesome as individuals, and take some time out and away to connect with our own beauty. Because it's still there, even amidst the daily grind of carpools, lunch-making, diaper changes, potty breaks, spilled drinks, laundry, tantrums and cartoons... it's still within us. I know it is.