by Erma Bombeck
Most women become mothers by accident,
some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year nearly 100,000 women will become
mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped
children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting
his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He
observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint...give
her Gerard. He's used to profanity."
"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint,
"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron
Finally He passes a name to an angel
and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."
The angel is curious. "Why this one God?
She's so happy."
"Exactly," smiles God, "Could I give
a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would
"But has she patience?" asks the
"I don't want her to have too much
patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the
shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that feeling
of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother.
You see, the child I'm going to give her has her own world. She has to
make her live in her world and that's not going to be easy."
"But, Lord, I don't think she even
believes in you." God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect
- she has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps - "selfishness? is
that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate
herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is
a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize
it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken
word'. She will not consider a 'step' ordinary. When her child says 'Momma'
for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!"
"I will permit her to see clearly
the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice....and allow her to rise
above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute
of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if
she is here by My side".
"And what about her Patron saint?"
asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."
My original intent was to write the
content of this page myself ... until I remembered this wonderful
Bombeck article. There is no way I could possibly have written anything
as poignant and eloquent and this subject most assuredly is deserving
Too often we simply assume that having
a special child is somehow an unlucky twist of fate and don't stop
to remember that life seldom gives us a task or problem with which
we don't have the strength to cope if we only dig deeply into our inner
selves. Perhaps it is meant to teach us how to truly love.
Caring for the special child is a task
which will require an inordinate degree of patience, understanding and
compassion. Often a mother finds she is so involved with such a child
that she doesn't have the time to lavish the same attention on the child
who is more self sufficient. When this occurs the child more able
to fend for themselves may well feel left out. It doesn't have to be this
way if they feel they are contributing to helping Mommy and in doing so
forging bonds with the special child which will last a lifetime.
Face it, Mommy and Daddy can
use all the help they can get and the capacity for compassion and caring
taught will serve the siblings well throughout their lives. Perhaps even
assure a continuation of the care the special child needs if the time arrives
when Mommy and Daddy are no longer able to provide that care in years
Parents facing such a situation
often worry that no one will be there to care for their special angel once
they are gone. That worry can be a shadow they carry with them always.
Perhaps it is one of the most difficult aspects of loving a special child.
One that can so often be avoided if the other children in the family are
allowed to really know the special child as Mommy and Daddy do. In coming
to really know them they can not help but love them with a love which is
one of the most significant they will experience in their lifetime.
In allowing them to share in this
responsibility, while always remembering that they too have their own lives
to live, you will do them an enormous favour. And you will make your own
task so much easier as well. Do yourself the favour of sharing the special
child with others who will benefit from the love the special child is only
too willing to share with them.
"Special children are just angels in disguise.
Sent to fill our hearts with joy and to
brighten up our lives."
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MIDI - "Someone to Watch
Over Me" courtesy of Les Gorven
Artwork © Carolyn Blish
March 18th 2005