Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Emotions and Regret

Before I get all "deep" on you, the NEW Freedom Walk total is $112,146.36!

I had an absolutely wonderful conversation with a good friend last Friday. We both have been getting through some “emotional” milestones of late, and our talk left me feeling better about many things. In particular, I felt better about being Jenelle’s Mom and about the mixed emotions I’ve been having about all that requires. Thanks Kirsten!

I love both of my children equally and yet so very differently. With Jack we get to experience all the “normal” things in life, and for that I am thankful. I love Jenelle is so many different ways, yet there are feelings I experience with her that sometimes I think are not normal for a parent to have. While I can’t imagine my life without her, I sometimes regret having her in my life as well. And that is a difficult and selfish statement to make, but I’m human, so I'll admit it.

What did I do to deserve this? When I was little, my sister and I would sometimes joke and make fun of mentally retarded kids. Not of any one child in particular, but like kids do we often teased and joked about being “dumb” or “retarded”. Of course, my sister always followed our joking with “Be careful, you might end up with one (a handicapped child) some day!” As if God was somehow keeping a mental tally of our jokes, and making a list of what we’d get later in life. The insecure part of me still wonders sometimes if that isn’t true in some way.

Although I never experienced any difficulty getting pregnant, lately I feel that having a special needs child might be somewhat equal to the sorrow associated with infertility. Kirsten explained this beautifully by stating that “sometimes it is hard to make decisions using common sense instead of with your emotions.” Emotionally my heart tells me I want to have another child and that it is worth the risk of having another Jenelle, and yet my common sense knows the percentages and the statistics. And with Jenelle’s good health of late, I need to keep my common sense and remind myself of all the hell we experienced in getting to this point.

It is said that the first year of special needs is the hardest, and I wholeheartedly agree. But with the passing of time, things get easier and harder in different ways. With time I see the personal grief my parents and in-laws have experienced; the mourning of the loss of that “perfect” child. That over time they too have learned to accept things with regard to Jenelle, but the raw emotion is still somewhere beneath the surface, and still a painful reminder of what we lost. We are all coping with that loss, and still hoping to find the answers to what went wrong.

I think my emotions have come about in light of the recent article and the Freedom Walk and in re-living that difficult time. Once again I can see that Jenelle touches so many lives in many different ways. And while I have learned to live with a child like Jenelle, I also selfishly regret sometimes having to make the decisions we do with regard to Jenelle. It's the little things I regret. Little things like going out of town for a weekend as a family, or going to the beach are mostly impossible to do with Jenelle. Simple things like finding daycare become so much more complex. And yes, while there are things to help make caring for Jenelle easier, those things also mask the reality that this child will forever need someone to care for her. And in reality, I sometimes regret having to be that person.

My friend reminded me last Friday that my feelings are normal. I am human, and I am not perfect. It is OK to regret the things that happen to us in life. While it is difficult sometimes not to listen to what your heart wants, the reality is that your common sense usually knows better. And sometimes it is good to live in the moment, like the wonderful moments we are currently experiencing with Jenelle. But we must always remember the hellish journey it took to get here. And as a way to survive our emotions, we can only hope for good things to come.

No comments: