She sat calmly in front of me. Smiling, glowing and sharing how she was loving being pregnant. Due in just a few weeks, she shared her excitement for finding out the sex of her first child. She said what I’ve heard so many parents say, “honestly, we don’t have a preference so long as the baby is healthy.”
My throat tightened a bit as I felt a familiar weight drop in my heart and stomach. I smiled warmly and replied gently, “wow, what an exciting time for you and your husband.” We went on to talk a bit, and as I walked away from this gorgeous pregnant woman, I felt a bit confused.
After all, what a perfectly logical and nice thing to say, “we just want our baby to be healthy.” So why did it bother me so much?
Then it occurred to me. I’ve been living every new parent’s nightmare. We were facing what most humans fear the most and I was doing my ‘darndest’ to make sure I didn’t scare other people with my horror stories. My efforts to normalize our situation and to make everyone around us as comfortable as possible with our ‘nightmarish’ circumstance had left me exhausted and disconnected, and, at times, resentful.
The truth is. When I was first pregnant, my husband and I didn’t care if our child was a boy or a girl either. We also prayed and wished for our baby to have 10 toes, 10 fingers, a healthy heart, a fully functioning and developed brain and that he or she would inherit only the best qualities from both of us.
Our first child was a boy. He was not healthy. We did not pray for a rare genetic mutation. We did not pray for autism. We did not pray for our son to grow up as a science experiment. Our life is not what we prayed for or expected and we wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ll say that again, because I think it’s important. Our life is not what we prayed for, and we wouldn’t change a thing.
One of the most powerful and potent lessons (there have been many) that we have learned is that we have no control over our children. (Rest assured, we recognize our responsibility to care for them and do our best to guide them towards growing into their best self.)
Do you know how much energy we waste trying to control and manage parts of our lives that we actually have no control over? (asking for a friend.) It’s exhausting how we attach our minds to imposed and uncontrollable expectations for our own lives.
It is simply not true that “I would be happy (or happier) if my child were healthy”.
If I lived believing that thought, I would be miserable each moment of my life when he is unwell, and I’d be paralyzed by anxiety every other moment worried about when he will become sick again. That would make it impossible for me to show up in own life and be the mother that my son needs me to be.
My child’s health is not the source of my sense of happiness. It can’t be.
My sense of peace and wholeness lies within me where nothing can touch it. My true sense of joy comes from a place that is not attached to anything that could (or could not) happen outside of me.
I am not saying that it is easy to raise a child with a rare disorder and that we are blissfully and effortlessly happy. What I will say, is that raising ANY child is difficult and finding our own happiness and wholeness as parents is not up to our children. That is an inside job. One that actually has NOTHING to do with who our children are, what they are doing, the grades they are getting, or if they are ‘healthy’ or not.
What all of our children need... what the world needs, is for each of us to come back to ourselves.
To own our own choices, beliefs, and to be responsible for our own joy. To find a sense of wholeness within ourselves that allows us to show up grounded in our own unique gifts and mission.
Are you searching and grasping for happiness? Certain that if your child could simply be or do something differently that you would be happy? Or if you could get that promotion, find a better job, live in a different house, win the lottery, land that big business deal or get rich and famous that you would finally be happy?
It’s all a lie. The invitation is to meet yourself right where you are. Delicately detach from what you think you need to make you happy and remember who you are.
What is getting in the way of you showing up fully in your life and being present with what is? To loosen the grip on your attachment to how things are ‘supposed to be’ and allow yourself to step into what is?
This is the only way to truly live, and the only way we can move forward in our lives towards our potential and step into who we are being called to be.
There is nothing we can’t do when we stop relying on the outside world to make us happy or feel whole. We have everything we need.