Some of your children have unique challenges. Are you – how do I put this – surprised? I guess I am asking because I have a kid who has her own unique challenge (all right, I guess everybody does) but I keep being surprised about it. She has two loving, educated, attentive parents and a stable household and everything she could need, and yet life is hard, in some ways. I guess life just isn’t fair, of course it isn’t, but does that seem natural to you, or do you keep wondering when everything will be perfect?
There are days I feel like Benjamin has wrung me out, stretched me thin, and broken at least ¾ of the bones in my body. Just tonight, in fact, I had the entire family get up and leave a diner before we’d ordered because he hit me. My husband and the other two children were pissed at me – can’t say I blame them – but we’d all come in one car.
There are nights when my worry over Zachary has me tossing and sweating with tumultuous dreams in which he is lost or taken, both symbolic, I know, of my fear of him never finding a place of comfort with himself.
Lilah causes no such problems. She’s just stubborn as hell.
Does this all surprise me? Not really. Everyone has challenges. Everyone. Are some kids harder than others? Absolutely. Abso-fucking-lutely. No doubt about it. But there are great gifts that come with their challenges.
Benjamin comes with a vast store of passion and creativity. Would I trade the perfectionism and sensory issues and impulse-control problems for a child for a child who cared less about life? No. And I don’t think Ben would trade in his own passion if he could, even if he knew life would hurt less.
Zach, maybe, would trade in some of what makes him special to feel “normal,” but he can’t. He’s remarkable and sensitive, and that’s his lot in life. Maybe he could cut his hair and lose the pink shoes, but that would just make him sad, not “normal.”
And that, my friends, is because there is no normal. Or maybe I’ve always been so far from normal that I have no idea it even exists. I say this because I’ve recently discovered that not everyone considers two months spent reading about the Peabody sisters time well invested. And apparently I’m the last American woman alive who doesn’t wax my eyebrows.
So, no, I’m not surprised. To me, the greatest joys in life are the challenges we overcome. A hard run, bread from scratch, finding the right word, making it through the Steve Jobs biography. OK, I never did quite do that last one.
I think being human is about imperfection and difficulty. Also incredible joy, outstanding colors on a crisp October day, finding five monarchs on a bush one of the teachers planted near the school to attract butterflies, and fresh butter on a hot roll.
I’ve come to this place of acceptance and understanding through tremendous heartache at seeing what my children must struggle through, and please don’t doubt for a minute that I still feel that way many, many days.
But, no, I’m not surprised.