kinder than necessary
By @meriahnichols on July 30, 2011
Be kinder than necessary ~ for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
My friend Jalalieh posted this on facebook recently, and it was one of those uncanny postings. That very thought has been a persistent blanket over all others in my mind.
Moxie and I went to her new therapy group, the one I didn't really know what we were getting into. What I thought would be a smorgasbord of therapies or something like that. Well, it is kind of like that - it's a play-based therapy group. Kids are all under 3, have a wide range of disabilities. Most of those disabilities are what the world calls "severe".
It's not a little 'bend, clap, twist, smile and call it a day' kind of place - the group meets twice a week for two-and-a-half-hours EACH TIME. Intense. It's run by good, kind people that have "pro" simply oozing all over them.
It's not a place that I can bring Micah. So we are only going once a week until Micah starts pre-school or we either figure out if this is really for us - 2.5 hours, twice a week, every week, is a pretty big commitment. Mind you, this is on top of our weekly physical therapy, the monthly music therapy, the monthly support group and Moxie's Tribal Meets.
Dude: that's a LOT OF STUFF!
I just don't know. The New Group has the added advantage of a half-hour built in parent therapy session - where us parents trot over and meet with our very own therapist. With our very own snack time.
Moxie has a blast - she's pretty much on a roll the whole time. That's something.
Back to Jalalieh's post, everyone fighting their own battle. This group makes that ever-apparent in obvious ways. That Moxie crawls is a cause for huge celebration; some parents don't know if their child will ever crawl. Ever. That may or may not be a battle for them. Their child might not crawl but might - as my child might not - graduate from Harvard, first in class.
I say, "obvious ways" because I believe that there are plenty of people that fight battles that I'm glad I'm not fighting - and those battles have nothing to do with disability, visible or not. They are not obvious. They might be battles of abuse, of neglect. Of heart-ache, sorrow, despair. We just don't know what someone, anyone is going through at any particular time and we can't assume we do. Or that it's better or worse than our own.
You know what I mean?
This is the part where I am glad I have my background in disability. While I missed the beginning of many stories, I know the way they can end. I know that these small children may very well grow up to be completely independent, happy, fulfilled, thriving individuals who may or may not walk. Who may or may not talk. Who may or may not ever feed themselves. But while not talking or walking or feeding themselves, might graduate from UC Berkeley and write books and have love in their life.
The part that I missed when I was living at the end of the story (and the beginning of the next chapter, perhaps) was what it took to get there. What the parents lived through, with their kids.
Sometimes I want to say to those parents that are grieving, that are struggling, that there may very well be a happy ending to their current chapters. But I catch myself: who is to say what "happy" is? And why must "happy" always be what the standard society is telling us is? Why does attending university, living independently and so forth seem to equate "happy"? And for those children that never do grow up to utilize technology to walk, talk, hear or see - those children that grow up to be diaper-wearing adults - well, who is to say that's not a happy reality for them?
We don't - none of us - know the reality of any one. We barely understand ourselves, for crying out loud. How can we possibly look at another person and take the full measure of their lives? Based on what only we know to be true for ourselves?
I need to get out of my head. Let's go to the garden.
Oh rose, you are so beautiful
You too, little water drops. All the world in you