On my island

One thing that I have realized about parenting, is that you have NO idea what is is like to be a parent until you are one.

Likewise I have found it is really hard for other moms of young kids to relate to what we’ve gone through with you, Miss M.  Recently, I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a while.  She and I have sons who are close in age, and she had a daughter about 5 months after I had you.  We hadn’t caught up in a long time so I went through a couple of the more dramatic moments in your history (normally I don’t go for the most dramatic moments, I tend to talk more about the mundane moments, but the conversation just went there).  So, after telling her about how you were almost killed at the hospital – twice – we’ve spent a lot of time there and given them plenty of opportunities to mess up, apparently – she then tells me that her daughter has been having some medical issues as well.  First there was a respiratory virus that she had a cough forever with, and then at 11 weeks they figured out she was tongue tied and they had to clip it.  At the pediatricians office, no stitches, it took about 5 seconds.  But it was terrible having to hold down her baby while they clipped it.

And, I’m sure it was terrible.  And I don’t think she was trying to one up me in any way.  She really was just trying to relate to our experiences, and I really am grateful to have friends who are caring enough to share their own challenges with me.  But as I was walking away, I couldn’t help but think what a huge gulf exists between our experiences.  It stings a little bit to see someone on facebook asking for prayers for their baby who has to have ear tubes.  Trust me, mom friend, those outpatient ear tubes aren’t going to hurt one bit.  Nor are they in the slightest bit risky or life-threatening.  Your little baby is going to be just fine, prayers or no prayers.*

I’ve also seen articles passed around my mommy circles about how crying it out is dangerous to babies’ brains.  I can’t help but realize that the major medical procedures you have been through, beginning with your stay in the NICU at birth, all of which have involved a lot of crying, must have caused MAJOR damage to your brain and emotional state, if what these articles say is true.   So when mommy friends get all worked up about “cry it out” it just makes me cringe – do you have any idea what my daughter has been subjected too?  We’ve both been traumatized.

I used to think that tough times taught you empathy.  Now I realize that really tough times teach you that you know very little about the world.  I can’t pretend to understand what it is like to be a parent of a child with cancer, for example.  I can’t pretend to understand what it is like to not have enough food to feed your children.  I haven’t had those experiences (thankfully), so I wouldn’t know what it is like.

Having a child with medical challenges makes you realize how powerful and powerless you are, at the same time.

*I should note that I am atheist, so I don’t actually pray to anyone.

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