I’ve been going through a bad time.
So many days confined to bed, frantically resting so as to have enough spoons to do the meager amount of parenting left to me. Despairing over my son’s behavioral issues, wondering if they stemmed from anxiety over my erratic ability to be there for him and knowing that I was not helping him in the way that I could if I was not in constant pain. Feeling so guilty for leaving my son to the care of others, struggling not to weep every time I tell him “No, I can’t play with you right now. Please don’t give me a hug. I can’t. I want to, so, so much, but I can’t.”
But then I read this amazing story from Goddess Leonie about struggling with post-natal depression. How even through the worst of it, she knew her daughter was meant to be hers, and how she could smile with utter sincerity through the tears when she met her daughter’s eyes.
And I started to wonder. Maybe, even with this pain and disability that was forced on me when my son was not even two, I’m still the right mother for him, and he the right child for me.
He is so affectionate and cuddly, and it breaks my heart when I can’t snuggle him endlessly as he craves, but that same affectionate nature gives him the empathy to happily bring me things when I need them, and ask if I want a blanket, and to spend an hour in bed with me one morning as our hands pretended to be a family of spiders playing hide-and-seek in haunted houses.
This wonderful, amazing child found a way to involve me in his play even with me flat on my back, unable to do more than move my hands.
Just as a couple of months ago he came up with the idea of “spider hugs” when my body hurt too much to take a full embrace from his bony, wiggly body – just his hand holding mine, but through the power of his imagination transformed into a full embrace with all the love in the world.
And armed with empathy and imagination, I can hope that he will grow up able to use his privilege to help and not to harm. That he will always know, supported with the experience of his childhood with a disabled mother, that bodies with different appearances and abilities from his are still valuable, that their lives are no less worth living, no less worthy of respect and care, than his own.
(Talk of fatalism and destiny usually makes my skin crawl. I believe wholeheartedly that we create our world moment by moment, pushing against the skin of the world to define our own spaces. But there is comfort in the idea that maybe some aspects underneath all this chaos and misery were meant to be. I can adjust my beliefs to better support me, while still allowing others to have their own.)
Date: October 24, 2011