Friday, October 24, 2014

What Ifs

They really aren't helpful, are they?

We all have them.  

Mine range from the superficial "what if I were taller/thinner/better looking?" to questions about my path in life "what if I had moved to NYC instead of Los Angeles?" to "how would my life be different (better/worse) if I had never had kids?"

Yes, I have thought about that last one.  I'm not saying I wish I hadn't had my kids, because that is totally untrue.  Sure, there are moments when I look around my tiny, cluttered house and wish I was living in a loft in Paris...alone.  Who doesn't have these kind of daydreams?  (Angelina Jolie)  I'm saying that maybe I could have been thinner, traveled the world, made some more money, etc, etc, if I hadn't.  And maybe not.  Maybe I would be just as poor, chunky, travel deprived as I am now.  Who really knows?

It's a trade-off.  Okay, for some, it isn't (Hello, Angelina!), but for most, having kids means your life will be somewhat messier and you will be somewhat poorer.  For most parents it is a welcome trade-off.  Our kids enrich our lives in big and small ways every day.  My kids make me laugh, make me proud and make me yell in frustration, sometimes in the span of two minutes.  It's crazy and chaotic and I am happy and feel privileged to have such great kids.

I thought about these "what ifs" when I read an article about a mom with the headline "Mom of son with Down syndrome, 47, wishes she had had an abortion"...or something along those lines.  I refuse to post the article here, but a little Googling on your part will bring you to the story I am referring to.

I read it because a few of my friends had posted it, incredulous that this hateful piece was out there, complete with pictures of the family.  I repeat, pictures.

I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around putting your kid (he's an adult, but still her child) out there with the words "I wish he were never born" or actually, even worse, "I wish I had known what you would be so I could have aborted you" alongside a brand new family portrait.  I am no psychiatrist, but I think there is something deeply, fundamentally wrong with this person.

My first reaction was "how dare she?!"  Seriously, how dare she put her kid's name and picture out there with those words?!?  How dare she pose with him like they were a family?!?!  What purpose does this have?  We should feel sorry for her?  We should pity her?  What does she get out of this?  I have to wonder.  Maybe ( I think, definitely) she has some serious mental disorder.  Maybe she was duped into telling her sensationalized story by some unscrupulous editor (the source it comes from is known for it's outrageous stories and is no friend to the disability community).


I feel awful for her children.  She has another, older son who is missing from the latest family portrait; I would be very interested to hear what he has to say about all of this.  As for her younger son, I just feel so much sadness.  How awful to be the subject of so much loathing and misplaced anger and self-pity.  This woman has decided that her life would have been better without her younger son in it.  Meanwhile, she institutionalized him, so he really wasn't in it much, anyway, so I don't understand how he ruined her life.  She is blaming her crappy life on a child; a child that didn't ask for his issues, or choose his parents.  I have to believe that all any child really wants from their parents is to be loved and accepted.  Feeling like a disappointment is no way to go through life.

I feel sad for her, too, though it's a grudging feeling.  I really don't think she deserves my pity, but I do pity her.  I pity her crappy life.  I pity her inability to see the good and that it outweighs the bad.  I pity the small, sheltered space she must inhabit.  I pity the hatred she must feel for herself.

Yes, I am angry.  I am angry that she put this out there for expecting parents to see.  Will their fears be confirmed with this story?  I hope not.  I hope that they know that there are many, many more parents of kids with Down syndrome who feel pretty much the exact opposite of this one, myself included.

I am angry that people say she is a product of her generation.  That statement is a slap in the face to any parent that chose the hard road of keeping their kid home and fighting for inclusion in those earlier days.  She could have been a pioneer and she chose to be a coward.

Parenting is not for the timid.  At least, parenting well isn't.  

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