South Coast PlazaImage by machbel via FlickrOne of the hardest parts of parenting a child with a disability is that you know your other child, the one without the disability, is sort of screwed too. Managing the disability is a full-time job. There are doctor appointments: many, many doctor appointments. There are medications that are always being tinkered with, and side effects, and rooms that must be kept quiet, and happy events that must, at the last minute, be cancelled. And that's just life.

To the healthy child, it's like an unbalanced seesaw that always leaves her hanging in the air. In her heart, the healthy child knows that she would not want to change places with the disabled child, but the heart is a very conflicted organ, as we all know, and the healthy child also knows that she is getting the short end of some stick, somewhere, and life is totally unfair, especially to her. And it is.

In the end, on both sides, there is much rivalry, much bitterness, much venom.

It is ugly.

But one must live the life one is given, and one must endeavor to do the best one can, and so last weekend we separated the vipers. My husband took my older girl to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and I took my younger girl, my healthy girl, shopping in Orange County.

I told the most junior Finnegan that this was her weekend. My attention was hers. We would do what she wanted. We would eat where she wanted. We would watch the Food Network as much as she wanted.

Much girliness ensued. I probably should not say too much because the details might make you explode into pink confetti, but know this: ears were pierced.

Life isn't just everyday reality, right? It's the extras too. Isn't it? She'll remember this. Won't she? She'll remember that I did my best? That I tried?
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Susan C said...

This really choked me up. Our best - yes, that's all we can do.

Your day sounds memorable.

Desiree said...

Who knows how our children remember us, or where we redeem ourselves in their hearts? We have to make the choices we can live with. And offer that compassion up to our own (misguided) parents---
much love--

Jean Spitzer said...

Well said. It's enough that you remember--and make more special time, when you can.

altadenahiker said...

So many things this brings to mind. Just a couple: Your love for your children, and the way you take responsibility for the world and fate.

Funny enough, some of the most relaxed parents I've seen have the most children. By the time they get to #5, they're sort of, "Whatever. Things will work out one way or another."

Olga said...

Ah, the parent guilt. It never goes away, but we do the best we can most of the time. Why do kids have to notice so much? This was a very touching post.

Paula L. Johnson said...

I suspect parents have very little control over what children remember. One of my best childhood memories was waking up on Saturday morning to hear my mom bragging about me on the phone. (She had called one of her sisters very early to take advantage of long-distance rates.) I stayed in bed and just listened. It was great.

Margaret said...

We actually had a whole weekend. We stayed at the Westin South Coast Plaza. It was very fun.

It's funny the things we forget and the things we remember. I just want her to think that I knew things were hard for her and that I tried to make it up to her. Probably, she'll only remember that I once made her eat yams and she threw up.

AH: Those parents with lots of kids do learn to let go. But I'm not ready to solve my problem by becoming the octomom.

Olga: Yes! The parent guilt. Now that you're on the grandma side, I hope it's easier.

Paula: I bet your mom did that all the time.

Stacey @ Entropified said...

Who knows if she'll remember, but I think when someone invests in us it produces good things.

You are such a great mom!

Petrea said...

This brought tears to my eyes, Margaret. Your daughters are both so lovely and sweet.

I picked up on some odd details to remember, and generalities. I like Paula J's story. Every kid should have a memory like that. So many don't. But yours will.

... daisy... said...

Margaret you are a wonderful mother. This made me cry. A big hug.

Deb said...

Yes, she will remember, Margaret. And I can't help but think that the life your youngest has been handed is building some great charactor - though she may not realize it until later in her life.

It's a beautiful post, and one that made me very sentimental and misty...not the norm on this blog but I liked it. Bless you, Margaret. xo

Daisy said...

This is such a moving post Margaret, one that reveals so much of that wonderful "you". It also brought back my own memories of special times with my mom in the midst of our chaotic family. They were times of healing and bonding and fun. I'll bet your "younger one" will remember this time too, well into her senior years.

Are you writing it all down? I'll bet it would be helpful to other moms and dads in like situations.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

She'll remember because it's connected to the story of getting her ears pierced. How about mother daughter tattoos?

Speaking from the perspective of the troubled child, I remember my mother/daughter day. It came at a time when things were breaking down. It meant everything to me. Still resonates

Star said...

Thanks for sharing this; you did a great thing. A friend's child (now delightful young adult) invented her own holiday, "NAME's eve," to be celebrated on the eve of her birthday...one VERY smart girl, and something that might help you keep your healthy daughter aware (til she's old enough to remember it, herself) that you think of her, too. Just a thought.

Cafe Observer said...

This is a broken world with countless little cracks. We do our best to tip toe around them with falling into a Big one.

Shell Sherree said...

I'd remember a day like that, for sure. And I like pink confetti. You're wonderful, Margaret.

Linda Dove said...

Being a parent is such a negotiated, mediated thing, no matter what the circumstances are. It takes time for kids to realize that that's the nature of life, that no thing is pure. But they do, they will.

I think PA is right that she *will* remember the specific event of this weekend, but I am sure she'll remember the aggregate of your thoughtfulness towards her over the long term.

uwant2gogo said...

I'm all teary, Margaret. You are a wonderful mom.