Do What You Can


I don’t remember the exact moment in my childhood when I decided my divine calling was to please others.  Above all else, I have always wanted approval. Unwillingness to accept responsibility for personal thoughts and actions, forced me to gravitate toward people that had no qualms with telling me what to do.  The advice offered was merely a distraction, necessary noise needed to cancel the truth. My inner voice never developed into more than a whisper, as I freely allowed others to share their two cents about any and all topics. However, I never received the memo highlighting that authenticity and honesty were an essential part of intimacy. 


No one close to me could offer first-hand accounts of the situations I now faced raising a child that was far from typically developing.  I despised the platitudes meant to provide comfort.  Things could be much worse…he is such a beautiful child…how cute that he scoots on his bottom instead of crawling…God does not make mistakes…You were meant to be his mother because of your strength…were some of the sentiments that I tried to choke down with a smile. I was drowning, and my carefully crafted inner circle could not save me.   Neither had I developed the necessary skills to plot my own course. So, I adopted an internal separation meant to protect.  For multiple decades, what I allowed the world to see was simply a facade. A young wife and mother performing the daily robotic tasks that resembled conscious living.  The myriad of choices vanished when I viewed the calendar booked with necessary appointments. 


There were two people that would not allow me to hide.  Both of my sons provided access to a shiny world full of adventure.  Jake was the part of my heart beating outside of my body.  Some days, his uncomplicated joy was like CPR bringing me back to life.  Grant would become my soul.  His quiet strength forced me to block out what I thought I knew about raising a child.   His brown eyes pleaded with me to dig deeper and I heard his pleas…  “Mom, I am not broken.  You don’t need to fix me. Just love me.” Oh, how I wanted to obey his commands.  And yet, the idea that transforming into a supermom would give me the magical powers necessary to heal his damaged brain kept me frantically searching for hidden solutions.


During the week, my husband went to work, and Jake was dropped off at preschool.  I felt utterly alone in the crushing responsibility to meet the unique demands of each day.  In the first months of Grant’s life, every appointment revealed a new medical issue and therapy that must be started.  The diagnosis of cerebral palsy and severe apraxia were particularly devastating.  Doctors could not confirm when or if he would walk and talk.  At night, I would rest my head on the pillow and allow tears to flow freely.  To my knowledge, I was the only person reading books about various medical conditions, researching specialists, discovering local resources, and attending every single appointment.


Let me be clear…I was never alone.  I am blessed with family and friends that have continually poured love into my world, but in the end, I felt this was my solitary burden to carry.  Did you read that? My child was a burden. That is an ugly fact that I would certainly rather not expose.  The unraveling might have started long before Grant was born, but the speed in which I was becoming undone terrified me. I tried to hold onto the label of “mother that has it all under control” for as long as humanly possible. Every facet of my existence suffered, and the once radiant people pleaser soon lost her luster. 


You can never fully know how a marriage will endure the uncharted struggles waiting around every corner.  One thing is certain …a union will not and cannot survive in isolation.