A new blog friend, Vicki, has lost her son. Evan, who had special needs due to being a micro-premie, is the son of Vicki, who wrote this amazing essay Mother at the Swings. I so related to a passage in this essay, this one: When Evan was still in the hospital, a social worker gave us a handout, a road map for the potential reactions of friends and family members to our new status as parents of a super preemie. Potential support people came divided, according to the handouts, into the following categories: the rocks, the wanna-be-theres, and the gingerbread men. It warned us that people we might think were "rocks" could unexpectedly turn out to be "gingerbread men." Just like the story, they run, run as fast as they can from you when they hear of your baby's birth.
I also know this passage is what Vicki wants us all to understand; as mothers, friends, family. We are all in this together. Let's all treasure what is unique to each of us.
It has taken me even longer to appreciate the mother at the swings, to know that she and I have more in common than I once thought. To know that her curiosity is a mother's curiosity, one borne out of love and tenderness and a desire to understand a child, my son, one who happens to be different. That she will listen and sympathize when I offer my observations. That her compassion and thoughtfulness mean she will take the knowledge I share and use it to understand other mothers like myself, some of whom could be her neighbor, her cousin, her sister, her friend. And, finally, that she wants to know so that she can teach her own child, who also loves to swing, how to embrace and treasure what makes us all different. And the same.
Vicki, know we are all inspired by you, as we too witness our own "gingerbread men". Thank god for our rocks. And thank god for all the mothers out there that will teach their own children how to love all that is different about each of us, and all that is the same.