Danny just learned to tie his shoes.
He’s seven years old and knows all the license plate numbers of every neighbor in a seven block radius and plays Beethoven by ear, but passing one lace over another to form a bow has been beyond his reach for years, until this month. It was actually a bit of a holiday in our house when it finally happened…holding his fork the proper way is our next hurdle, but for now, we are still celebrating the whole shoe tying thing.
I could continue on about the subject of raising a child with Aspergers, about managing the challenges while I (try to) maintain my sanity, about handling the way people see my child and helping them to understand him (and more importantly, helping my child to understand THEM) but instead, I’ll leave it to Erma Bombeck who, in my opinion, was the single best American author of the 20th century. Sorry, Hemingway.
The Special Mother
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?
Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
“Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint…give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”
“Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia.”
“Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew.”
Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, “Give her a handicapped child.”
The angel is curious. “Why this one God? She’s so happy.”
“Exactly,” smiles God, “Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”
“But has she patience?” asks the angel.
“I don’t want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she’ll handle it.”
“I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world and that’s not going to be easy.”
“But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.” God smiles, “No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect -she has just enough selfishness.” The angel gasps – “selfishness? is that a virtue?”
God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she’ll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a “spoken word”. She will never consider a “step” ordinary. When her child says “Momma” for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!”
“I will permit her to see clearly the things I see…ignorance, cruelty, prejudice….and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side”.
“And what about her Patron saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles, “A mirror will suffice.”