Wildflowers for Jade: You’re just going to have to come see for yourself

Thursday, May 19, 2011

You’re just going to have to come see for yourself

“Ugh, I can’t explain it. You’re just going to have to come see for yourself.” Words we’ve said or had said to us several times in our lives when explanations fail and nothing but the experience will do.
This is how life should be lived. Not always balanced out in ledgers with pros and cons and risk management but with leaps of faith and “why not’s”.
I think about this now, after reading something once again that tells me that stress for a parent of a child with Autism stays at high alert pretty much forever. OK sure I’m 9 months post-diagnosis and still find myself saying “He wasn’t diagnosed very long ago,” for the mere fact that I feel like I’ve barely processed it yet. But is it too much to let me hope that it gets… easier? Even though I can’t see how right now?
I am however going through a divorce and recovering from various other not-directly-related-but-somewhat-related blows, so I may be a little sensitive to it all right now.
But I’m digressing slightly. Only slightly. The thing is, in times like this, I can’t help but think about my mindset when I decided to have a baby. I was 32, and life before then had been anything but calm and drama-free. I had in my early 20’s been told my chances of getting pregnant were basically nil. So I went through the whole process of grieving and accepting that I wasn’t going to have a child. Later I found I could get pregnant by the fact that I did, then miscarried. Then divorced. And went through a whole different but same process of accepting that being a mom wasn’t going to be in my future. Came to embrace it even. Being child-free meant being free to do other things.
So when I did meet, fall in love, and get married to someone who had a strong preference for having children, I was still on the fence about it. I’d say when it happened I was 60-40 and “If we’re going to do it we might as well do it now.”
It was the way things looked on paper that had me trepidatious. The costs and sacrifices being weighed with the ghost of an idea of loving someone so much they’d be worth the costs and sacrifices. I was never much a of coo-er over babies that didn’t belong to me somehow. I didn’t melt over other people’s children and wish I had one too. I just saw dirty diapers and snotty noses and screaming tantrums.
And these are the things I think of now. What I’d had on that “paper” was nothing – nothing – compared to the true costs and sacrifices. And if I would have known, I would have said NO. No way. Even had the rest been put on paper – his beautiful smiles, witty personality, what it feels like when he says “I love you, Mommy,” - I would have mistrusted myself for the sentimental twit I can be sometimes. No trustworthy message could have come with that price tag that I would have believed “and you’ll find it all worth it.”
I would have said “I think I’ll take option B and take my childless self to Hawaii now, which I may never see with option A.”
I would have never known the person I missed out on, the indescribable thing that goes beyond dirty diapers and snotty noses and germy race-car shopping carts. Beyond high needs and Autism and endless worry. Beyond every sacrifice I’ve made and thing I’ve lost that I would have never believed worth it.
I would have never known what I’d lost and that makes me thank God - THANK GOD that I didn’t know what I was sacrificing. 
The funny thing is, on paper many people would have said to me “If that’s the way you feel, you probably shouldn’t have children.” And it’s true that many probably shouldn’t, and do anyway. But you just never know sometimes what a person’s made of until they get there. Wherever there is for them.

I laugh because I’m only relating my own story and not trying to convince anyone to have children. Though I do think about those who have had abortions because they didn’t think they could pay the price demanded for a special needs child. The ones who did see it on paper. The ones who couldn’t imagine that the thing they sacrificed to preserve their own way of life would have, in just a few months, been the thing they would have gladly died for.
What would I say to someone who's on that fence? “The love, the joy, the anguish; it’s indescribable. It’s like- it’s like… You’re just going to have to come see for yourself. But it’s so worth it.”

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