I’ve been thinking of this post for a few months now. A specific event spurred my brain to think and that thinking was exacerbated yesterday. So, of course, now I must write.
I was in a conversation with a woman telling me about how much she loved another person’s child. She said (and I quote), “If my child could even just be a fraction like theirs, I will be lucky.” I quickly reminded her all of the good things about her child.
The child she was referring to is kind, funny, charming, popular, involved, intelligent – one of those children that seem to be the ‘model.’ One of those children that many parents would want as their own.
That child also struggles with depression, has been in counseling, and taking antidepressants for quite some time. That child has been living a silent struggle.
I try to stay out of the nasty world of comparisons and ‘keeping up with the Jones” but sometimes, it’s difficult. I, too, am guilty of comparison. Not just for my children, but for myself. I would have to guess we are all guilty of that at times in our life.
Yesterday we had quite a large gathering at our home to celebrate the 4th of July. There were SO many children. It was amazing and lovely and wonderful and a great reminder of how ALL children are different. Some were runners, others were gigglers, some snugglers, and still others were eaters. All of them happy. All of them smiling.
As I looked around I just thought about how they were so happy. Happy with who they were, in that moment. No comparisons, no self-doubt – just happy with…well…being.
Being alive. Being with friends. Being in a pool. Being with family. Being by a fire. Being with a s’more. Being with popcorn making. They were living (at least it seemed) without expectation.
Living and being.
My college-friend, Jill, has a son Jacob who was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. He had three surgeries (port placement, back surgery to remove tumor, and port removal). He had 17 rounds of chemo over 10 months and 28 days of radiation. He completed treatment and was declared in remission in November of 2014. I followed his story closely – not just because she is a 20 year friend of mine (how is it possible that we are that old), but because he was around the same age as Estelle. I just couldn’t fathom what she was going through.
I have three friends who have children with Type 1 Diabetes. I read their struggles, I hear their challenges, I understand their heartache.
You know what?
I couldn’t imagine doing what they do every day. One thing I know about these parents? They are thankful their children and living and being.
The point is that all of us have something, all of our children have something – comparing and wishing your child to be like another? That’s dangerous business. Yes, the autism spectrum presents challenges for us – but it also presents some pretty amazing opportunities.
We all have something – and so do our children.
They may struggle with school.
They may struggle with peers.
They may struggle with their weight.
They may struggle with depression.
They may struggle with hearing.
They may struggle with diabetes.
They may struggle with learning.
They may struggle with an autism spectrum disorder.
Every day I would choose autism over childhood cancer or diabetes or anything else on this list. EVERY. STINKING. DAY. (Not that I really have a choice, I get that.) Why? Because I get it (at least most of the time) and whatever it is that your child may struggle with – well, you probably get it too. You’re helping them through it – and maybe that’s how life works.
Maybe we ‘get’ the exact children we can help.
So the next time I wish something away or wish it into comparison I’ll remember – remember that I never know how another child may be struggling. I’ll count my lucky stars that my child is happy and healthy while living and being.
That is enough.