What do we fear for our children? Clear your mind and imagine what haunts the parent’s mind beyond the witching hour.
When we are first parents, we dream of the honor and glory our child will heap upon our lives. The moment a nurse hands a swaddled, swollen-eyed bundle of alien into our arms, we are smitten with the potential this tiny body holds. Surely, this will be the most brilliant, compassionate, accomplished individual to grace this dreary planet.
Milestones pile up higher than the laundry. Or do they?
Was your nightmare a learning disability, birth defect or mental disorder which robs the child of the life you envisioned?
Years pass along with relatives and neighbors. All of them seem to slip through the hourglass like so much sand. Are there certificates and diplomas tucked between the funeral tracts? Was your nightmare the late night knock of an officer with an uncomfortable “Are you the parent of…?”
In due course, a nurse lays a swaddled, swollen-eyed bundle of alien in the arms of your child. Have you passed on your nightmare to a new parent so your grandchild can be safe under a helicopter’s watch? Or is your nightmare the child who never procreates?
All About Me?
I have no nightmares of what would, could or will befall my children. It would be an exercise in wasted time and effort. Still, I have lived them. I still am living them. I will die in their midst.
Merely because I have not dreamt it does not mean it does not come to fruition.
All About Them
I do have the children who blossomed the hope-filled aspirations of pregnancy and new parenthood. They are strong, intelligent and resourceful. My grandson calls one Mommy and the other Aunt. Before wholesale dismissing the rest, hear of how special they are.
My older son was born in the barometric drop before Hurricane Andrew. By the time the storm made landfall, he and I had rubella, German measles. Science cannot definitively pinpoint if his hormonal condition and hypothyroidism are a result of a birth defect or the live virus vaccine with which I was injected within hours of his birth.
At all junctures, the point is moot. Knowing would only open someone up for liability. It will not change the span of his life. I am grateful for a beautiful young man with a heart I was certain was lacking in his generation.
By the birth of my younger son, I had met his brother. They share profound autism. Neither of them speak. Knowing the specialness of the older gave me insight into life with the younger and grounded expectations of how the world would react to my activism. It slowly grew onto my consciousness; with them would the family tree cease to spread splendid branches.
My last child was destined to be it. It was more than a week before either of us was strong enough for her to be in my arms. The following week, the mayor cradled her tiny casket in his arms to the cemetery.
Last But Not Least
Beyond it all, there is one who straddles both camps with panache. Her autistic renditions of jokes and stories make my inner Grammar Nazi’s eye twitch. She plays piano by ear. She repeats the same sentence thrice in succession. She memorizes scripts in one viewing. She runs around in a kidney-shaped circle. Her laugh is as infectious as her eyes are sparkly.
No, none of this is nightmarish.
Here shall I close. Anon I shall reveal the phantom in our midst. It is not a tale for the weak of constitution.
Regardless of the anguish others shovel onto my sidewalk, I regret nothing. My children were divine gifts, each and every one of them. For every instance where my children are different from others, my heart knows there is a trade off. For the good comes heartache; for the despair comes triumph.
Indeed, merely because I have not dreamt it does not mean it does not come to fruition.
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What scares the bejesus out of you as a parent? Did those scary thoughts keep you from becoming a parent? How does fear change our parenting techniques?
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