So it's been a rough week, and rough weeks happen. I've thought of Connor more this week than in the previous weeks, and not only because Mother's Day is almost upon us and it's making me nervous and sad. Lots of things have been happening, both inside me and outside me, and life is complicated, so I've done my best to roll with it.
This morning, I saw a post on facebook that I've seen before. A news alert that a family with a special needs child had their dinner check taken care of by a nameless stranger at a restaurant with a note delivered that read "God only gives special children to special people."
This is a lovely sentiment. In my experience, it is also the cause of a LOT of anger and hurt. And I know that this post may upset my friends who have said something along those lines to me/us, or my friends who are special needs parents, and that's not my intention. But I've been holding this in for a really long time and I don't want it inside me any longer.
My first point - aren't the teachings of Christ (who, as a person raised in the Roman Catholic faith, is the standard bearer) that everyone is special? In which case, every family is special, and every person within them is special. This includes special needs (allergies? manageable blood disorders? sensory concerns? CHECK CHECK CHECK).
My second point - do you know that when you tell me that God "gave" me this because I am particularly strong enough to handle it, it makes me want to lash out? How unfair a God to settle this on my shoulders. I am a good person - a rule follower, a nerd, I studied hard and performed well. So, my adult life repayment for my hard work and strength is to be "given" a son whose needs are so great that people feel the need to tell me that it shows them how strong I am? Guess what? I ALREADY KNEW I WAS STRONG! I don't need anyone else's affirmation of my strength by laying the blame at the feet of an entity not everyone even believes in! Those who have known me since my very young adulthood can tell you that I was unnaturally strong in high school, a time when being alive is already fraught with overwhelming emotions and irrational behaviors. My reaction - well, I am who I am and I like me, so who cares what the rest of you think?
The thing is, I really do care what you think. I want you all to think that I am a good person - the rule-follower, the nerd, the girl who studies hard and performs well. It colors, and always has, everything that I do. But on my terms. My success comes from inside me. And if you don't like me, well, your loss.
Now, to get back to the idea that God gave me an extra-hard situation to showcase my strength to the world. I don't think that God is like that. I think He (sorry, Mom) already knows me, and knows that I don't need other people's affirmations. I think that Connor was ours because that's just the way that things work. Sometimes, crappy things happen to good people, and here I am talking about what Connor "got". He was good, as I've always said, and he did nothing to deserve the life he was forced to live. I will always be grateful that he was mine, and that I was already strong enough to take what he was given and make it a seamless and integrated part of my life, and the lives of my other children, just as Lee was able to.
If you want to acknowledge anything, acknowledge that it's a terrible shame that an innocent child was dealt a difficult fate, and let the parents know that you see them all. But don't bring God into it. Saying that God gave this specific situation to you feels like blame to me, and we've never had something or someone to blame. We just are. Our strengths rise and fall, just like everyone else. If anything, I am most grateful that Lee and I fought through all the BS and nonsense of dating to keep trying hard for each other, because without his strength behind me (and hopefully, mine behind his) we never would have gotten as far as we did. My bad days, strength-wise, were backed by his good ones.
Connor was my gift. I'd be just as strong if he'd been completely healthy and was still with us. It would just be showcased in a different way.