Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

Life as a Mom, A Homesteader, A Blogger and A Wife.

My parental innocence

(This will likely be a very stream of consious post as I am still kicking the idea around. And yes, I spend way too much time "kicking random ideas around" in my head. Must be the philosopher in me. ;D)

I was recently reading something that got me thinking about parental innocence. You know, that feeling we all have before our baby (or babies) arrive where we think of parenthood as nothing but photo ops and happy cherub like babies. Before we realize that our lives will be harder than we ever dreamed. Before we know that the bad days will probably outweigh the good. Long before we hear the "I hate you's" and the "no's".

This passage I was reading in my current reading obsession talked about the idea that parents have one stark moment when their innocence as a parent is lost. For some it might be the first time they yell at, spank, punish, etc. their child. For some it might be an illness that shows them how awful parenting can be on bad days. For some it might be big and huge and something we never forget. For others it might be slower and gradual.

For me it was before my children were even born. Mine was shattered at that ultrasound where the tech cried and left the room. The day I had to hear those words "I think something is wrong". There was more innocence lost in appointments that followed. Words like 'mental retardation', 'termination', 'adaptive equipment', 'severe disabilities', 'wheelchairs', 'shunts' and all of those big technical words... ventriculomegaly, aqeuductal stenosis, posterior corpus callosum hypoplasia/dyslapsia. After that no innocence was left. I saw how dark and heart-breaking it could be. I lost that feeling of peace and idealism; it was gone forever. I feel like I lost something. Like something so human and intimate was stolen from me. When my children entered the world I was not wide eyed and naive. I was already a realist.

I am not sure if this phenomena is reserved for parents of kids with disabilities or not. It might be. What I do know is that there is a stark difference in the ideals of parents-to-be and parents. There is a dividing line. There is something we know, a secret, that they will figure out. That every single heart-ache, temper tantrum and illness is worth it but it will be hard as hell. That every day will be a new battle, but one worth fighting. We can't, or shouldn't, tell them. We have to let them figure it out. We have to smile and say how wonderful it is and omit the bad parts. It's what we do. It's only fair. Let them have their naivety for one more day.

2 comments:

Stefanie 5:06 AM  

Parental innocence is definitely not a phenomena only among parents of children with disabilities. I read your site often and you often come across as thinking that parents of "normal" children have it easy. I'm sure you don't intend that but you often come across that way.

I have two "normal" little boys. Neither has been diagnosed with anything beyond food allergies, which as you know, is not always easy to deal with. But I have found that parenting alone is in and of itself infinitely harder than I ever expected it to be. I don't think there is any such thing as a "normal" child or parenting experience. Every child brings his or her own challenges to their parents, many of them common from one family to the next, but not all. In fact many of the challenges you write about with your children I am currently going through with my own two year old or already have with my six year old. I know it's easy to get caught up in thinking that everything that your children do is a challenge unique to their disability but many times it's just a typical childhood issue. The same goes for the good stuff. I always thought my oldest was great for all the things he did but I realized at some point that pretty much ALL kids did those great things at some point.( And I am so thankful for the moms before me who let me think my son was so smart, wonderful and unique!).
Anyway my point is that yes there is parental innocence before your babies are born. In fact I think it's even broader than that. We are always naive about the future in some aspects, although once the babies are actually born we do know that nothing is ever going to be as we expected it. For instance, I have some ideals of what having teenagers is going to be like, both good and bad, but I'm sure once I get there it will be nothing like I imagined it! As for keeping the truth about parenthood a "secret" from parents to be, we don't have to. They would never believe us.

Kristen 1:49 PM  

By no means do I wish to come off that way. Frankly I find it a little insulting to hear that I come across as thinking having a typical kid is "easy". I have never even come close to saying that. I don't think any type of parenting is "easy".

That being said, I got to be honest. Any Mom of twins has those thoughts of how much easier it would be to have a singleton. And any mom of a child with special needs is going to think it would be so much easier to have a typical kid. It doesn't make it right but it's reality.

As a trained therapist (and remember I teach developmental psych) I totally realize how much many of our issues are traditional parenting issues. What you have to keep in mind is that any parent of a child with any type of disability you are just compounding traditional problems with another set of complications.

No type of parenting is in any way shape or form easy. It's quite the opposite. We all have our problems, issues, complications, etc. I just like to use this space to vent about mine.

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Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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