Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Two weeks ago I wrote this for my regular column at Hopeful Parents. Because of the responses I've received via comments, e-mails, and even a couple of phone calls I felt it important enough to reprint my thoughts here. There are a couple of more "heavy" topics in the making and these are always the most difficult to express. Most blog readers want a quick and quite often humorous look at life. I do a lot of that (at least I hope) for the most part.

Writing about the hard stuff has never been easy. My first instinct is always the desire to laugh which drives my teenage daughter crazy whenever her friends visit. In my opinion the biggest reason to have children in the first place is the entertainment value alone. What wasn't a funny story about poopy diapers ten years ago can be quite hilarious now. In our world a story about poopy diapers or in the Ben's case - a lack of them - can mean an unexpected trip to the hospital and an improbable brush with death.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to blog about some things I've been hesitant to write about...until now. Ben is an incredible joy to be around and my wish is that each and every one of you can at least suck up some of that love he inevitably passes on to everyone he meets. But there is a side of exceptional parenting that is very difficult to comprehend, digest, accept, and in many cases live with. Please stick around to follow our journey...

It’s been awhile since I last wrote here at Hopeful Parents.  My absence hasn’t been intentional – it’s just been one of those times where life just happens…or maybe hasn’t been happening enough to blog about it…or perhaps more precisely, feeling like blogging about it. Okay let me be just a little more honest with you. I’ve been depressed.

Depression is an illness I am very familiar with. In fact both my wife and I are so up to date with the latest new-fangled anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications that we are surprised we are not called upon by pharmaceutical companies to provide potential patients of possible side effects. You know those advertisements – the ones where Wonder Drug returns you to “normal” life except for the insomnia, hot flashes, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, shortness of breath, hemorrhoids, uncontrollable flatulence, drooling, headaches, affectations for reptiles, dry lips, body odor, hair loss, joint pain, or an odd desire to set your neighbor’s kid on fire.  Like so many of you, most likely all of you who visit Hopeful Parents, the realization that life will never be “normal” again sometimes weighs me down like a cement life-jacket as I float along the Sea of Life.

Don’t get me wrong, just like all of those drugs that keep my son so much healthier these days I am genuinely thankful that some doctor, scientist, or researcher discovered emotional pain relievers. It’s just that depression is another one of those consequences of exceptional living that I…we…don’t deserve. It wasn’t something we either intentionally earned or even wanted. It came with the “whole package.”

And here’s the worst part: of all the parents out there we are the ones expected to hold our shit together the most. God forbid any of us give up, walk away, toss in the towel, deciding there’s got to be somebody else or a social service agency better qualified/capable/deserving/undeserving/needing/willing/ loving/etc. to care for my kid. Oh that person becomes the ultimate pariah of society…the worst of the worst! So we continue letting our souls and spirits descend into a special compartment of Davey Jones’ Locker filled with lead waders and concrete flippers.

But there is the upside: we know how valuable or children are! We do know how much joy and love they bring into our lives. We know how often they bridge the gaps between races, religions, cultures and everything else that divides the rest of us. We sometimes even know of special gifts, incredible potential or talents, accomplishments never expected; diamonds within the coal. This is why we continue “the journey.”

I’ve been casting an un-baited hook for awhile now. The illness of depression makes you selfish which just adds more slag to that weight pulling you down. Recently I’ve run into a few folks that enjoy dropping a cane pole in the water now and then.  They too have occasionally been using the wrong lures to reel in that “keeper” we all want to brag about.  The one we take a picture of...that ends up as a happy news item...something we are darn well proud of. That is the beauty of having fishing buddies – in the end we are proud of how we contributed to that special catch – at least that has been my experience with those I love to cast with. That would be the little fishing community of Hopeful Parents.


Lucy and Ethel said...

This is an excellent (and honest) post, and unless you have objections, I'd like to share it on our blog soon.

Sending big hugs from North Carolina -


Ben and Bennie said...

Lucy, you are more than welcome to borrow anything here that you like!

Anonymous said...

I love analogy and you cast this one very well! Barbara

Liz said...

I was, for a variety of reasons, really moved by your post. Part of it is that I have a daughter who suffers from at the least, anxiety and quite possibly depression, and it's a struggle. It's also hard to watch HER struggle.And her struggles are nothing like yours with your son. But we ALL want the world for our kids, and it's difficult to see them fight against issues not of their making. Life isn't fair, as the saying goes ...

I've come across, courtesy of a friend, the book There's Something About Daniel which you might like. It's a series of stories a mom, Robyn Stecher, wrote about her exceptional son, Daniel. She's sharing the walk in her own shoes and it's a candid look into the world of a special needs child via his mother's eyes and heart and mind. I love her motto or slogan, or whatever you want to call it: "Only those who can see the invisible can do the impossible."

Ben and Bennie said...

Liz, thank you so much! We will definitely check it out!