Not sure if today was the best day to read this NY Times article or not. It was posted on one of my favorite blogs, Dear Baby, and I usually can't stop myself from reading anything she recommends. She even warned ahead of time that it was hard to read.
Notes from a Dragon Mom was written by a woman whose 18 month old son has Tay-Sachs disease. This is a genetic disorder that will gradually paralyze him until he passes away. The article is her words about what it is like to parent a child you know might not see their 3rd birthday. She speaks about what elements of parenting have taken a front seat and which are completely unimportant. She speaks about the importance of making sure her son knows he is loved, comfortable, pain-free and basic needs are met. She also mentions how unimportant it is to read books about setting limits, researching elementary schools or choosing organic baby foods. Regardless of what she does, her son will die.
So here I sit- 40.5 weeks pregnant with an 18 month old of my own, reading about a pain every parent prays to God they never know. My heart hurts when Pursy runs to me wanting to be comforted because she ran into the door frame while tearing through the house. I would run into a thousand door frames to save her the tears. And yet part of parenting is letting your kids get hurt, learn tough lessons and deal with the unfairness of life. I pray every night that I would remember that God loves my daughter more then I do and that I would accept whatever His will is for her. But I can't deny how many nights I whisper- "but please don't ask it of me to lose her".
So the dance is this- to remember that as parents even though we spend thousands and thousands of hours creating the world our children grow up in, we ultimately have very little that we actually control. We protect our babes as much as we possibly can, but at some point they still walk out the door- as they need to. For most of us, we think about this in future tense. WHEN my kids get on the bus, WHEN they go to college, WHEN they move across the country. For the Mama who wrote this article, there is no future. She spends every day with her son watching for signs that he is slowly slipping away. And it gives her love a simple immediacy that was beautiful to read about.
And so even though I read this article with tears streaming down my face, it is a reminder that my daughter is in God's hands and every day I have with her is a gift- not my right. It is a reminder that when my son enters the world, he also comes to me as a visitor that I am being entrusted to take care of. And when I get hot and bothered about organic food or dye-free detergent or charter schools, it is a luxury of having the resources to have those choices. If they went away, I would still have beautiful children that I am blessed every day to have the gift of loving.