I'm sure most of you have read or heard about "Welcome to Holland" It's a nicely written piece about having a child with a disability. It is about looking at what that child has to offer instead of what they are lacking. I can't tell you how many people have sent it to me over the years. They can stop now. Really they can.
It is not that I have a problem with the piece. I have a problem with the parents who plan on going to Italy. With the parents who have this preconceived notion of what having a child is going to be. As if it is going to be this wondrous journey where nothing in your life changes, only gets enhanced by the birth of a perfect baby.That it is easy. Well, I've got news for those parents to be...Turn in your passports, because you're not going to Italy. That is not what having a child is like. I'm not saying there is no joy, that there is no adventure. I'm just saying that the fantasy and the reality are two very different things. Me, I wound up in Paramus, New Jersey, and it has nothing to do with autism. Instead it has everything to do with giving birth to a person, an individual, a bundle of need. It is about going from selfish to selfless in one last push. It is not an easy trip. Not for the faint of heart. As for personal plans and dreams? Ha ha! They go on the back burner for a while. That is just the way it is. You are not number one anymore. That needs to be understood.
It is all about the baby and what they need, not about you. Parenting is not a cruise through Venice, but rather a backwards roller coaster ride with twists and turns. It is hard, it is scary, and it can be a hell of a lot of fun. I think though, that the most important thing to remember when planning to have a baby, is that it's not your trip , it's your child's. And surprise surprise, it is their itinerary-not yours.
Today, AoA ran their usual type of "Woe is me-this isn't what I had planned on, I hate my life, but I'm a warrior and must suck it up, and maybe one day I'll look back and see what I did piece" today. It is all about sacrificing pride, relationships, sleep, dreams of having other children, financial difficulties, giving up jobs, losing years,..and my personal favorite-the author discusses giving up her dignity because she had to catch her sons poop in her bare hands. Oh my goodness. Is that all?
I'd like to go over there and say "so this makes your struggle more special-simply because you have kids with autism?" but we know it wouldn't get past moderation. I'd like to say" You think that because your child has autism, you somehow gave up more than a person who doesn't?" But what I really want to say is "WELCOME TO PARENTHOOD..fasten your seat belts it's going to be a bumpy ride."
Once again, we have a piece about how autism affects a parent. There is nothing about the child. Nothing about how hard their kids work, nothing about their struggles, their dignity. (imagine your mother trying to catch your poop in her bare hands as it was coming out.) Nothing. No, these parents didn't birth children, they birthed autism...their "real kids" are over in Italy, and maybe one day after all their "sacrifice" they will be able to go over and claim them.
At the end of the piece, the author asks..
"So where do we go from here? I suppose we continue the battle. After all, I believe God gave us these special jobs for a reason. We may never know why, but I believe that with faith, hope, and love, one day we'll look back and say. "Oh the places we went.""
I hope that one day she does look back. Sooner rather than later. I hope that she realizes that the special reason she got her child wasn't about being in a battle-but rather about being a mother. That much of the time, being a mother-to ANY child, is about sacrifice.That no matter who your child is-there are always rewards. That yes, having a child with a disability is hard, but it is not the end of the world-rather, the beginning of a new one. I hope that she doesn't one day look back and think-"oh the places I should have gone."
As for me, I was thinking that maybe I went to Holland after all. But then I looked up to see Zoe drawing on the dog, Lily and Oscar fighting about what to watch on t.v. an Sammy spilling juice all over the floor. sigh...Nope, still in Paramus, but I have to say, I've got one hell of a view.