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Thursday, April 26, 2007

...Don't Say Anything At All (A Continuation)

After writing my last blog entry, I got to thinking (I do that occasionally…). I realized that the subject of “inappropriate comments” includes many facets which I left unexplored.

Then, my sweet Peitricia Mae left a thought-provoking comment, which only solidified the fact that I needed to delve deeper into this topic.

I know that *I* say a lot of stupid things too. Perhaps my sensitivity towards issues of disability and a-typical children has increased, but that doesn’t mean that I’m immune to foot-IN-mouth disease. In fact, I catch that virus OFTEN.

For example, I know that I continuously say the wrong things to two people who are very close to me, who are both dealing with issues of infertility. They are both sweet confidants and I feel safe telling them what’s on my heart. So, they are often privy to my griping about the difficulties of parenthood. I know they love me, and they love Ellie, and I *think* there is a small amount of empathy in the fact that all three of us struggle with the knowledge that our dreams of motherhood have had to be revised to some degree.

Yet, they must sometimes think, “At least you HAVE a kid, Chrystie!”

And they probably feel the same way about ME as I felt about Jennifer.

Each one of us struggles with SOMETHING in life. Everyone has had to revise a dream in some way, shape or form. Some husbands suck. Sometimes being single sucks. Finding out that your unborn baby has a significant health problem sucks. Watching your mom die of cancer sucks. I don’t know if we can “rank” the suckage either. Is a failed marriage easier than raising a disabled child? I doubt it.

So, Peitricia Mae, to answer your question of how to “recognize differing abilities without a) ignoring the difference b) pretending it isn't there?”, I say this, and note that it’s derived solely from personal preference: Talk about your problems (in this case, parenting issues as they pertain to perfectly “normal” and healthy kids) freely, but don’t ever preface it with a “You’re so lucky you aren’t dealing with this…”

I LOVE hearing about my friends’ chillin’. I especially love stories of H and E. I laugh wholeheartedly with each one whose kids say funny stuff (“Mom, dad’s busy, he’s on the can.”). I love knowing when your kids excel in school, and when they’re the only ones wearing sweat pants and runners to “ballet” class.

Just don’t ever say, “You’re so lucky that Ellie doesn’t say inappropriate things.” Or, “You’re so lucky that you don’t have to discipline Ellie for sticking her finger in the electrical socket.”

I HOPE I’ve learned this lesson for myself. You will never hear me say, “Oh, at least now that you’re divorced, you don’t have to deal with cleaning up the dirty socks off the bedroom floor.” Or, “Since you can’t have kids, at least you don’t have to worry about sleep deprivation.” Because just as I would give anything to be embarrassed by something Ellie SAID or to give her a time out for WALKING over to the outlet, so, too, would my girlfriend give anything to clean up dirty guy-socks or wake up at 3am to feed her baby.


Sunny said...

Perfectly said!