Toni Braxton is facing a lot of criticism over her memoir, Unbreak My Heart. According to E-online, Ms. Braxton writes that she believed her son’s autism was “God’s payback” for having an abortion. While many are understandably upset about Ms. Braxton’s provoking statement, I think what is being missed in the outcry is she states in her book she BELIEVED. With a “D“.
What parent of a child with special needs has not had that thought? That our child’s disability was because something we did? That you might be being punished for something? That you did something wrong? Did you have a cocktail before you knew you were pregnant? Did you scuba dive? Were you a bad person? You and your spouse fought. You cried when you found out you were pregnant.
When Boo was first in the NICU I wracked my brain trying to come up with some reason why. Every time some new worry arises with her I wonder why she suffers. I still am searching to the ends of Google to find an answer. I have blamed myself for not wanting a second child. I blamed myself for knowing that I probably had a glass (or two) of wine before I knew I pregnant. I blamed David, thinking surely something he must have come into contact with at work did this. This thing that no one could explain to us.
If not one parent has ever had that thought, I call bullshit. Yup, I just swore at you. Because it is impossible for me to believe that when told your child had XQZ you handed out cigars and said how proud you were that your child may have to struggle more than others. That not once did you second guess yourself, your doctor, your medical history or your God. It is easy to blame God for a lot of things. He very rarely comes to the witness stand. He is kind of busy.
He is blamed for war, for famine, why not question him for your child’s disability or illness? Or your own. I imagine there are many cancer warriors who wonder why they got sick. What did they do or not do?
In Ms. Braxton’s memoir she is recounting her feelings. What she went through as a parent of a newly diagnosed child. I do not agree with everything she states in her book. But am I outraged that she once thought God was punishing her for a decision she made? That she went there and bared her feelings? We might write in our diary, our blog, our book about our feelings and fears. We cry to our friends, our partners and our moms. We go through a period of grief of the child that might have been. That is natural. Am I sometimes fearful that one day Abby or Bridget might read a post I have written and be hurt by it? Of course! But I am also aware that my love for them will overshadow any fears or thoughts I have had, they will read the whole post/entry and not take a line or two out of context.
Did Toni Braxton set autism awareness back a decade with her memoir? Nope. Not buying it. Only if the crazies out there start using it as an anti-abortion statement. I can see it now, don’t have an abortion your next child will be punished. Let’s face it, there are idiots out there who use whatever sound bite possible to defend their position. Even if there is a thousand reams of information to back up the opposite position. Of course I wish she spent more time talking about how wonderful her son is, how proud she is, how she realizes that autism (or any disability) isn’t a punishment. That life with a child with special needs is a life-altering journey.
But it’s not my memoir.
Most parents would never, ever, tell her child that she wondered why her child was born with a disability. We tell them that they were born perfect. There is nothing “wrong” with them. We lobby for inclusion. We shout from the rooftops our advocacy.
We believe deep in our hearts that our child is perfect, beautiful, amazing and we are astounded by their will.
But at one moment in time, each and every one of us wondered why “it” happened. Then our hearts grew ten times too large and we stopped wondering and began living.
At least I’m honest enough to admit it.
Special thanks and a shout out to my friend Kristi at Finding Ninee who drew God on the Witness Stand with three hours notice, never asking why I needed it! And to Tia who pre-read this post and encouraged me to post it knowing others may disagree.