Wednesday, February 25, 2009
What a great week I’m having on Words to Go! I finished my Random House novel The Pirate Queen and I get to chat with author moms this week on the subject of “The Invisibility of Motherhood.” Today novelist and mom Maureen Lang and I decided we should chat about the blessings of rearing a special needs child. There is probably a special place in God’s heart for moms with special needs children. The Hickmans were especially blessed a few years back with a gorgeous blue-eyed nephew who we all adore, but who was born afflicted with Downs. He is a light in our lives and has changed each of us in many ways. Maureen, you probably understand what I'm talking about, don't you?
MAUREEN: Absolutely! I always say praying for patience is a dangerous prayer, but that's something I've had to learn with my son. He has Fragile X Syndrome, and like Downs this disorder affects people with a wide range of symptoms and affectedness. Some Fragile X'ers are high functioning, some are low. My son is developmentally like a two year old, although chronologically he's thirteen. So . . . learning to be patient with his progress is something we deal with every day. All it takes is one smile from him and that patience is a lot easier to feel!
PATTY: I would imagine that there are many invisible acts that you do that may never be noticed by your child. As moms, we know that mothering is often a thankless job anyway. But in what ways have you felt "thanked" for your efforts in rearing such a special child?
MAUREEN: Every time my son makes any kind of an advance, I feel rewarded. I've been working with him to hang up his coat on a coat tree at home for several months - simple for most people but not for those who can't quite figure out the mechanics of how the simplest things actually work. He's gradually learned to go straight for the coat hook and make an attempt. You'd be surprised how many different directions a coat can actually hang from a hook!
MAUREEN: Is he glad to do this? Probably not, he'd rather go straight to the kitchen for a snack, or to the television for a favorite show, or to the computer for a favorite game. However being able to do some of those simple things to take care of himself will help him in the long run when I'm not here to do everything for him.
PATTY: Are there any life lessons that you might have missed out on if you had not been given this child?
MAUREEN: I think one natural reaction to having something bad happen to us is to think either God doesn't love us like He loves others, or that we did something to deserve an extra challenge in life. I can't tell you how many moms I've talked to who've exhibited this reaction when life takes an unexpectedly bad turn.
PATTY: It’s a natural response, though.
MAUREEN: I've learned through my own experiences that both of those lines of thinking are wrong. God does love me, and it was nothing I did to cause my son to be born with a disability. I've spent some time exploring that old question of why bad things happen to good people, and finally accepted the fact that it's all part of this faith-based system God has set up for us.
PATTY: I think we forget that accepting Christ as Lord is only the beginning. This process you’re talking about is actually foundational, that of accepting God’s sovereignty in the midst of an imperfect world. It’s a major element of that “peace” we all tout that Christianity gives us. Sometimes, we have to find it over and over again, don’t we?
MAUREEN: We do, Patty. If God allowed only good things to happen to people of faith, you can bet we'd all "get faith" if there were some provable benefit in doing so. And then where would we be? Would our faith be based on fear of bad things, or on the love that God showed by creating us and coming to this world and dying for us?
PATTY: That’s when we know we’ve fallen in love with our Lord, when we decide that this journey we’re on with him is out of a mutual love for one another, him at great cost and us at temporary earthly costs.
MAUREEN: I don't think having been given a child with a disability was entirely random—God does have a say in what challenges are allowed to come our way—but somehow it's easier to accept when I realize we all have something to overcome. Why not me?
PATTY: Yes, why not?
MAUREEN:Having challenges here on earth is one of the best ways to focus on Heaven, so the result of challenges cannot possibly be all bad for those who turn to God.
PATTY: It’s been a pleasure getting to know you today, Maureen, here on Words to Go.
Maureen is offering two of her novels to us in Friday’s big give, The Oak Leaves and My Sister Dilly, both delightful novels.
Tomorrow Patty chats with general market mom and novelist Leslie Lehr on the challenges of rearing children as a single parent. Leslie has a book give-away too so join us and leave feedback each day for all of our great author moms chatting on Words to Go!