Or, How I Learned to Stop Feeling Guilty and Learned to Love my Son.
By Kirsten Stuart
Moms are no strangers to feelings of guilt. I’m pretty sure we invented it. Mothers of children with special needs experience guilt in epic proportions. It’s impressive, really, how quickly we can turn every bad situation back around on ourselves. We make sure we feel the full weight of every painful situation. OK, maybe it’s not all that impressive. It’s terrible, actually. We’re downright cruel to ourselves.
Who knew I had such power? Apparently I’m so powerful and superhuman that I can cause random genetic mutations to occur in my unborn child’s DNA. I have the power to control everything around my child and when bad things happen it’s surely because I let my guard down. You see, I alone was keeping everything upright, and something I did must have caused all this pain, and my guilt about it is what’s keeping my son alive and on track.
Yes, I’m being snarky, and no I don’t actually think this way (well, not most days). These are what I say to myself when that guilt monster comes to the forefront of my brain. These ideas are just so ridiculous that I can’t help but stop and laugh at how cruel I can be to myself. Mercifully, we do not have the ability to alter genetic code or control the world through our everyday thoughts and actions.
We blame ourselves because we humans need reasons for everything. We want our questions answered. Perhaps we turn on ourselves because the possible reasons for our situation are difficult to accept. These are our choices: 1) Our family was unlucky. In the world of genetics, everything is random and our family drew the short straw. Or, 2) Our higher power selected this for our family for a reason which we are yet to be made aware. Our faith is being tested. Neither one of these options feels satisfying, so why not just blame ourselves? I did it. It was me. End of story.
I don’t like being the loser in this genetic lottery. I also don’t enjoy the idea that a divine entity chose our family for this strange genetic experiment. Seriously, these are my choices? I choose myself. It’s my fault. Is it starting to make sense now why we moms are so cruel to ourselves? We have no good choices!
Now, finally, I’ll share with you my Ah-ha! moment, the day I released my guilt and stopped torturing myself. One day, when I was having a good old fashioned pity party, I tearily asked my husband, “Why did this happen to us?” and his answer changed my perspective forever. He said, “This didn’t happen to us, it happened to our son.” It was like getting hit with a brick. It mobilized me. I had no business feeling sorry for myself. My son needed me. Spending time on my guilt and sadness was only keeping me from my true superpower: being a kick-ass mother and advocate for my son. I have so much work to do! I’m going to defy the odds and give this child the life he deserves. He will be educated appropriately. He will be happy. He will have friends. I can do it because I am THAT powerful, and for goodness sake, I will let go of this guilt that has been preventing me from harnessing my true power!
Have you seen the Avengers films? Yeah, well that’s me now. I’m not sure which character I am, but I’m kick-ass! I sailed through my son’s IEP last year and walked out without a scratch. His special education teacher returns my emails promptly. The principal knows my name. My son has playdates. Hear me roar! I will be super and human for this one beautiful child and I will change the world.