I just have to share this! It broke my mother’s heart wide open:
This article on Raising my Rainbow spoke to me on every level. Lori Duron wrote a book and maintains a blog about her adventures in motherhood. She is raising a boy who likes to wear girl’s clothes. Her love and healthy attitude toward her son are touching. As is her honesty about the pain that goes along with raising a child like him.
She includes a brilliant essay by Emily Perl Kensley. It’s magic.
Here’s an excerpt, but you should read it all.
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But, you don’t always get on the plane to your preferred destination. That’s life.
Just like so many mamas and daddies out there, my hubby and I deal with unique challenges. Our son is different… and that has been obvious for as long as we can remember.
At 10 months old, he was startled by loud sounds. He would cover his ears and make a very alarmed facial expression that made every adult in the room double over with laughter. Wide eyes, hands over ears, mouth gaping. We thought it was precious and no one, for one second, thought it was something to worry about.
Then, he began to talk a bit late. However, when he did, his vocabulary was huge and his articulation clear. So, we were thrilled at how bright and verbal he seemed.
However, he regressed not long afterward.
There were constant signs that he was unusual. He never played with toys quite the right way. He didn’t want to ride his ride-on toys. He wanted to turn them over to check out how the wheels spun. We marveled at how his brain worked, and we still do.
He didn’t want to participate in art. He began throwing objects (including full cups) suddenly. Now, we know that he has sensory issues.
However, around 2 and a half years old, his behaviors changed. In the past, they had been odd, perhaps, but not truly troubling. But, they started to raise concerns. He became aggressive. He began to scream “Shut up!” and “die!” at people when they angered him. He never seemed to want to play with other kids.
It took a while for us to figure out what was holding him back from living his fullest life.
He is now almost 5 and, though doctors have been reluctant to label him until he has gotten old enough, it is pretty much agreed upon that he likely has Asperger Syndrome.
It’s not a shock because we figured out before anyone else. We have always found him to be one of the coolest people that we have ever known. His father and I are still enamored with him. He has enrolled in an EC preschool and made leaps and bounds there.
But, when your child is different, there is always pain. There is always worrying and wondering and just wanting for everything to be OK.
So, whether you’re raising a gender nonconforming kid, a little one with physical handicaps, a child with a deformity, and on and on the list goes… just try and remember something. Though you may feel like you are living in a martian land and that no one cares to take a look around at your world, there’s thousands of us out there and we are all laying awake at night and crossing our fingers at every holiday event.
All that we want for our kids is to be seen by the world as good enough, valid, useful and important. All that we dream of is that they can be treated with love, rather than fear or contempt.
So, what do we do?
The first step, of course, is teaching them to value themselves. They will do that best when they see, in your eyes, the innate value and importance that they hold in this world – simply by being your baby.
If you are raising a “normal” child, spend a moment every now and then reminding them that a part of their value is their heart and compassion and that, in expressing that, they make you proud.