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Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Special Mother by Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck is no longer with us, but I grew up reading her newspaper columns and her books.  She was one funny lady who truly knew how to laugh at the ordinary, everyday absurdities that would make us cry if we weren't laughing.

This is a piece she wrote that was not humor-filled.  It touches me to the core everytime I read it.  A classmate of mine in grad-school who is also the mother of a special needs child, gave it to me during a time when I was really struggling (more than my usual ALWAYS) and feeling like nobody could possibly understand.  I appreciate that gift from her, of reaching out to me when she knew I needed a lifeline.  With these words that encouraged and affirmed.

Please enjoy.  Thank you to my friend, and thank you to Erma, and thank you to all the parents out there who fight the good fight and feel blamed and misunderstood.  You, we, are all special.

The Special Mother
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, Cecelia."
"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew."
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 be cruel."
"But has she patience?" asks the angel.
"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 never 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."
as I completed this, I discovered that I had already printed this poem in a blog post in October of 2009.  I guess that's the hazard of a middle aged woman writing a blog for anything surpassing about a week.  I repeat myself.  Forgive me.  It's still worth re-reading.  I never tire of it.


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