We become parents, some of us, on purpose. We spend months dreaming, planning, getting ready, and are overjoyed when our new baby comes into our lives. Some of us are surprised by the pregnancy, and we have to figure out how to adjust, how to adapt, what shape our lives will take.
There aren't always happy endings, either. Babies desperately loved and longed for sometimes aren't ours for very long, and parents must learn how to cope with loss when they hoped for joyous bounty--a new life to change and shape theirs.
Whatever the way we become parents, whether we lose our little one, whether we find ourselves with a baby with a disability, or a baby born perfect with all ten fingers and ten toes, one thing is certain. We are way too hard on ourselves as parents when we are faced with adversity and challenges. We beat ourselves up when we feel we've let our child down, when we've been human and made a mistake, or not known about some special trick or tool or tip.
We are even harder on ourselves when we have a child with a challenge. We face scrutiny from medical and educational professionals, from the general public, from our own families whose support we are counting on the most.
We are too hard on ourselves and way too hard on other parents. We judge and we find ourselves sorely lacking. We worry. We second guess ourselves. We take a difficult situation and make it harder on ourselves with our doubts, our worries, our certainty that we have irreparably failed our children because we didn't do X or did Y.
And when we turn away from judging ourselves, we are vicious in our condemnation of other parents. We've really got to stop this before we teach our children to doubt themselves, to worry over everything, to find themselves lacking, and before they turn all of that onto others.
Do you love your children? Would you take a bullet for them? Brave uncomfortable and uncertain situations to fight for the things they need? Are you trying to make the world a more understandable and navigable place for them?
Of course you are and of course you do. You do the best you can and when you know better, you try to do better. You don't expect your children to be perfect so why should you expect you to be, either, or for, that matter, any other parent going through uncharted territories trying to raise a child or children with issues and challenges?
Sure, it's easy to kick ourselves and kick other parents, too. Anger lets us cover up the fear and the worry, the anguish that keeps us up at night. It distracts us.
This world is not an easy place and so often we feel alone and misunderstood and completely incapable. We need to quit making the world harder than it has to be. We need to reach out to parents who are struggling and give them a soft place, a place of understanding and acceptance. We need to reach out to other people and let them know that it's okay--no one has to be alone.
Twenty years ago, with Bobby, that was a time where we were alone. We did it on our own. Times have changed. There are more of us now, and we can and should make sure that no family feels alone and isolated and misunderstood. We do that by showing and feeling compassion, by reaching out and making sure there are soft places for everyone to express their realities and know that they'll receive back acceptance.
Rick and I may have figured it out on our own, alone, with Bobby all those years ago, but we are blessed to have so many friends with children like our girls and Bobby, so that we are not alone. We have a broad community of support and acceptance, as do our children, who are accepted and appreciated for who they are, issues and all.
Everyone deserves that. It's way too hard, otherwise, and when we have the power to make things easier for others, how can we not?