The other day I was asked if I had ever ‘grieved’ for Boo. I was completely taken aback by the question. Why would I grieve when my child lived? Of course, the person meant did I grieve the child I thought I would have (aka “perfection”).
The true answer would be, no I haven’t grieved. But not because I am a glutton for punishment or in denial, but because I accept—most of the time anyway—Boo for who she is. My sister-in-law thought that maybe I had so much trouble over the holidays because I hadn’t grieved. What she didn’t realize was that I never blamed Boo for my feelings. Nor was I upset that I couldn’t buy my 4-year old appropriate gifts and instead went with therapy based ones.
My problem was that I was feeling guilty and (I admit) kind of overwhelmed, depressed, and feeling that I suck at being her mom because of my own shortcomings. Not because of Boo’s. Yes, I struggle when I see typical 4-year olds. But that is not about grief. It is about wanting my child not to have to work so hard.
What I tried to explain to my SIL was that if Allie didn’t get into Harvard (hey, a mom can dream) I am going to be upset because she worked so hard to get into the school (again, a mom can wish). With Boo, I get upset because she works so hard to achieve things that are normal milestones for other kids. And at her birthday or the holidays I feel bad for Boo that she doesn’t get the magic like other children her age.
Most days, I am able to put Boo into perspective. Whenever I get too into the self-pity mode, I only have to look into the waiting room of any therapy or doctor’s office. There is always a child who struggles are more intense. Which that Catholic guilt in me makes me feel guilt that I actually think: thank God that isn’t my child. Come on be honest, I am not the only one! And I am sure some parent looks at Boo and has the same feeling.
Although they probably don’t admit it for the world to judge!
I am not sure what the grieving process is, or if I am in the midst of one and just don’t know it. I do know that it is exactly what makes Boo a ‘special’ child that I love the most about her. While I wish her struggle wasn’t so difficult, I know it is exactly her determination that makes her the girl that we know and love.
So I don’t believe that I have grieved. And I do not think I want to. I would rather rejoice that Boo is Boo.