Sunday, May 2, 2010

Some Mothers Get Babies With Something More

Every now and then someone writes
something that touches my heart.
For all of my friends who have had
babies with something more...



"My friend is expecting her first child. People keep asking what she wants. She smiles demurely, shakes her head and gives the answer mothers have given throughout the ages of time. She says it doesn't matter whether it's a boy or a girl. She just wants 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 do toe points that are the envy of the entire ballet class. Call it greed if you want, but we mothers want what we want.

Some mothers get babies with something more.

Some mothers get babies with conditions they can't pronounce, a spine that didn't fuse, 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.

Some mothers leave the hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months, even years later, take him in for a routine visit, or schedule her 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?

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. As I know parents of typical children watch me and wonder the same.

Mothers that lift a child in and out of a wheelchair 20 times a day. Mothers that monitor tests, track
medications, regulate diet and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred specialists yammering in your ear.
I wonder how we 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. I even wonder how you endure schmaltzy pieces 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.

You've developed the strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil. 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 are the mother, advocate and protector of a child with a disability. You're a
neighbor, a friend, a stranger I pass at the mall. You're the woman I sit next to at the park, my neighbor and my sister-in-law. You're a woman who wanted ten fingers and ten toes, and got something more.

You're a wonder."