“Just enjoy your life.”
These were the words one of my mom friends shared with me not too long ago. I had not seen her since she had her second baby, and we got to talking about kids and I opened up to her and told her that my husband and I were unable to have biological children, and how difficult this was for me. That evening I learned that her older son, now about 5 or 6, had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. She told me that when she and her husband married they had agreed to remain childfree, but that after some time she changed her mind and really pushed him to reconsider, and so their first son was born. I guessed by our conversation that they had decided to have a second child largely out of concern for their firstborn. My friend is an older mom and her husband is quite a bit older than she is. Although her son seems pretty high functioning, she worries mostly about the potential for social isolation that children with Asperger syndrome might experience.
Lately, I’ve thought a bit about my friends and family who have special needs kids. I have a little cousin (now 15) who has Down Syndrome and another cousin who has a significant learning/developmental disability, this latter case is even more difficult because the young man in question looks physically very strong and people do not understand that he actually has a problem and cannot help some of his behavior. In both cases, the people in question have siblings that will hopefully step in and take charge if and when their parents are unable to do so, but I know that not everyone is as fortunate to have an immediate or extended family that can help. I recall reading an article a few years back about an older woman who was looking for someone who could step in and care for her adult disabled son, as her health no longer allowed her to do so.
These stories get me thinking about the many needs that are out there and the opportunities that I might have to volunteer my time and of course about the positive emotional (and physical) benefits of volunteering, but they also remind me of one of my favorite quotes, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
When I allow myself to think about my childlessness, mostly I just feel sad, and so lately I really try to remind myself to feel grateful for the life I have right now, and sometimes I hear my friend’s voice reminding me to just enjoy my life.
Iris lives in Florida with her husband and best friend of many years. Five years ago infertility and other life stressors really messed with her head, but she’s gradually regaining her Self and her passion for life.