I was reminded on the occasion of what would have been my mother's ninety-fourth birthday of an expression she used. It's just an expression and people use it as a way to feel better or put events in perspective.
Not everyone believes the expression to the extent that my mother did ... or in the way I do ... because of her beliefs.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But I think today I'd like to kick it to the curb. Life and its lemons.
The expression reminds me of brighter colors and happier days and oh! The beautiful lemon-yellow taffeta dress with lemon colored chiffon my mother sewed for a friend of my sister's ... way back in the 60's.
Today, I am saddened for a friend. With a friend. I am as discouraged and confused and crushed as one can be for a friend and I cannot elaborate on the why just yet. But I am sure as the next week or so unfolds, I will ... with her approval and even appreciation - not for the doing -- for the caring.
"I like the way you articulate things." she said to me today when I said, "Oh J! I want to blog about this right now! I am so ... !" and that's about all I could get out for that moment.
Making lemonade out of lemons is not going to help in this situation. Not at all. For a moment or two, in theory, there may be some peace or relief, but each waking moment is terrifying in the thoughts of what could come and what could be. There will be permanent emotional scarring and many lessons learned along the way. For everyone involved.
I've often enough stated here that as a mother of a child (who by age is no longer a child, but by ... er ... IQ, certainly is) I do my best work when it involves advocating for education. For change. For tolerance --if not acceptance. But there are times when I, with my nose to the grind stone researching whatever it is I need to research ... times when I think I've dotted every 'i' and crossed every 't' ... suddenly recognize or realize that, um, no, I haven't.
The guilt and shame builds and I think why am I so bad at this? This parenting of a child with special needs when in truth ... I shouldn't ask myself that. I am an excellent parent of this child and the proof is in the pudding of her.
The opportunities and independence I have worked so hard to build through years of pestering teachers, Ed Teams, husband, sister, friends ... to let her do it herself ... let her take care of it ... teaching her what I know, showing her what I know, helping her overcome the daily struggles of learning ... of living life. Her own life.
WAS I WRONG?
When I say to 'them' that she needs to do it herself. She can do it herself. Let her try to do it herself. When I stamp my feet and dig in my heels on an issue, I know ...
I AM CORRECT.
That is exactly what is needed. This young adult (by age) will one day have to go it alone to some degree. Her parents, who love her with no strings attached and for nothing in return if that is what she has to offer, may not always be here for her. That is why we teach her, why other parents teach their special children, to live their lives to the best of their ability doing things on their own.
But not alone. With guidance and a hand, always, and like our typical children, making mistakes along the way -- we let them learn from those mistakes. And we mirror the learning from our mistakes as we go along beside them, guiding them. We are, after all, human.
WE ARE NOT WRONG IN OUR EFFORTS.
Although there are times when we are forgetful or harried and hurried and maybe, just maybe we miss a step or misstep along the way.
Sometimes when we least expect it we are reminded that indeed, mental retardation is present in our lives. The fact that our children are great mimics and blend so well and easily into society on a social level often hides the truth of their existence. They struggle every day to be just like you. Just like me. Just like everyone they see.
IT IS FORGIVABLE.
When you see my daughter and her friends, you immediately know that they are 'different'. It may be looks, attitude, abilities, behavior ... it's there as distinguishable as night and day and you would have to be a buffoon not to notice.
Different isn't bad. It isn't a disease. It's just different. (I've said that often enough too)
Today, for the first time in the twenty years of her, I wondered, 'why?' Not specifically why her? Why me? Why us? Why them?
But rather ... Why did this happen? What's the lesson You want us to learn from this? Are we to reach out to others in forgiveness? In teaching? In anger?
Huh. I don't know. I'm going to pray on it.
While I'm praying on it, I'm going to be reflecting on ignorance. Ignorance as poisonous as racism. As ugly and dark and dangerous. There is no excuse or reason for it.
But it's there.
So God, please help my dear, dear friend get through this. And while You're at it, help me too.