Sunday, May 20, 2007

When a Child Outgrows the Safety Net

UPDATE: I neglected to include the essay's author in my initial post. It's Lisa Romeo. My apologies.

The New York Times publishes some wonderful essays on the weekends. I have really liked what I have found in their "Modern Love" weekly in the Sunday Styles section. The "New Jersey/NY Region" section also has some really good pieces.

This one appeared on Mother's Day in the NJ section, under a heading that said "Generations". I don't know how much longer it will be available for free online. But I thought it was worth sharing. A few excerpts:

"How does a mother keep from continually moving the net? Am I done with all that because Sean no longer arranges toys in straight lines or needs listening exercises? Because he can focus on a tennis ball in play, calmly enter new classrooms sans rehearsal? He is no longer so different, but is there still a special need? Something he still needs, from me? Maybe knowing, but not revealing, where his molted skins lie?

What do I know anyway? That it took 136 vision therapy sessions for his eyes not to hurt when the TV picture rolls or the sun glints off the pool? That his toddler habit of repeating every sentence I said was not cute but a sign of neurocognitive miswiring?

Sean may not be so different now, but I will always be a different mother, with painful memories of what could have been ordinary moments...

...I cherish the cheerful, dimpled adolescent with the amazing vocabulary, but he comes packaged with the recovered child of a thousand traumas. And the mother-advocate is a role difficult to relinquish. I was good at it. I got him through..."

This essay is adapted from “Special Gifts: Women Writers on the Heartache, Happiness and Hope in Raising a Special Needs Child,” to be published by Wyatt-MacKenzie in June.

No comments: