A few weeks ago I met up with a long time friend for coffee. We chatted about children and somehow got on the "six degrees of separation" about people we knew. A relative of hers is a special education and she said she often prayed to God for a special needs child because she knows how to be an advocate for children, isn't afraid to make waves and has lots of connections in the special needs community.
I nodded and sipped my coffee. I said nothing. Inside, I was thinking, "Are you frikkin nuts?"
(Now. Let's digress here. You're going to read this and may think, "Laura is telling me to abort my unborn child because he or she has been given an diagnosis and will have a life with disability! The baby will suffer and I will suffer and it isn't worth it!" Let's clarify: HELL NO I AM NOT SAYING THAT.)
This friend- and she is a friend- is a devote Catholic. No matter what a doctor told her about her potential unborn kid, she would chose life. I completely agree with her. Life is always worth living, no matter the suffering (perceived or real), no matter the struggle, no matter the long term out come. As a mother of a special needs child, I will say it loudly HIS LIFE IS WORTH IT.
But. It is not EASY.
My friend has what I mourned Monday- blissfully normal kids. They are polite, well mannered and well behaved. They make excellent grades and are good at sports and music. Do I believe for one minute her life is picture perfect? No. But she has many things I cannot brag about because they do not exist in my life.
And I think, "What mother wants to see her child struggle?" I ache when I see my son struggle to enjoy something kids his age love, like loud music, dancing, a play area, certain foods. (What four year old does not eat pizza? MINE.) Think about it- even the Blessed Virgin wished she could help Her Son as He struggled with the cross.
The Blessed Virgin knew what Jesus was going through was for the good of all humanity. She ached with the real and intense ache of a mother seeing her child suffer and die. No more, no less, as that is the most intense ache a mother can know. Yet . . . she knew. She trusted. As much as it hurt her to see Jesus suffer and die, she knew it was for the glory of God.
If I could take this from my son, would I? Yes. I offered. I prayed. I screamed, "GIVE IT ME, MAKE ME SUFFER, NOT HIM!" Believe me, I prayed that I would be left with the lasting scars of his early birth, not him. I am a mother and my basic, most burning desire, is to "make it better." That's why I cannot fathom wishing a child of mine would have a special need. Would I love my children no matter their abilities or needs? I do! Would I wish it on them? No. Because no mother WISHES to see her child suffer, to struggle, to overcome.
Yet like the Blessed Virgin (and let's be clear I am SO FAR from the BVM it's not even funny but we are both mother's and, in that,we get each other) I love my child. Deeply. I also love Him enough to trust that all the challenges my child faces are for His Glory. I don't think all this is due to random chance. I think there is a reason behind it all, reason why it is him, a reason why it is our family. Do I pretend to know why? Nope. I just have to trust, to accept, to be the best mother I can be. I have to walk with him on his path and give him the tools to be the most wonderful person he can be and let him know (as I must all my children) that their weaknesses will show God's greatest glory.
(post inspired by these verses: The Gospel according to JOHN 9 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.")