If I Could Have My Son Without His Disability, Would I?


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Last night, I dreamed that Simeon could walk.

It happens from time to time. The dreams sneak up on me, appearing out of nowhere– then vanishing for months.

Sometimes it’s a miracle.  A kick of his legs, a bend at the knee, and I turn to Greg whispering, “Did you see that?Something has changed.”  And something has.  I am picking him up.  I am placing his tiny feet on the floor.  I am letting go.  He is walking.

Sometimes it has always been this way.  He is on the front lawn. He follows behind Greg.  He toddles shakily back and forth as the cars hum through our neighborhood.  “Hold his hand if you’re crossing the street!” I call.  Boys can be so reckless.

But it never lasts.  I wake up every time.

Hopeful.

Unsettled.

Disappointed.

Guilty.

I feel sick.

My subconscious is so unkind.

What kind of mother dreams that her child could be different?  What kind of mother wakes up disappointed that he is not?

If I could have my son without spina bifida, would I?  Would I change this if I could?

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

I can ask the question a hundred different ways, but the answer is always the same.  I would make things easier.  I would write a different story. 

But I hear other mothers say, “I love them just as they are.  I wouldn’t change a thing.”  And I am ashamed — and disbelieving.  Surely I am not alone.  Don’t we all want to remove, to ease, to unburden?  Isn’t it for love that we long to take away?

My mother would change me.  Were she the author, my story would be less anxious — there would be no panic. But this does not mean that she loves me less.  And maybe it’s okay to want something different for our children.

Maybe it’s okay to love what is while stealing glances at what is not, saying yes — that’s how it would have gone, had it been up to me.

So I dream with eyes closed, I observe the manufacturings of my mind, I feel every bit.  But I always wake up, I shift back to reality, I find the comfort of our home, the solid bed beneath me.  And even now I can hear him, careening through the house, laughing in Greg’s arms.  His hands outstretched, his eyes wide open.

We are playing a flying game.

And dreams seem far away.  And I am satisfied with what is.

Now is enough.

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This post originally appeared on What Do You Do, Dear?

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