When I was pregnant, I had this prayer/mantra that I would repeat to myself all of the time: Dear God – please let this baby be healthy, safe and normal. And if not, please let me be the parent this baby needs.
I never felt quite right praying for a healthy, safe, normal baby. Who was I to ask for the easy route? Besides, I knew many people whose children deviated from the healthy, safe and normal route, yet those folks felt no less blessed than the ones whose kids were deemed healthy and normal by medicine and society. Hence, the second part of my prayer. If God was going to choose to send me a child with special needs, then I hoped he would give me the strength to meet those needs.
When my kids were born, I rejoiced that they came into the world safely, and were pronounced healthy and normal. Thank you, God. Life kicked in and I forgot to be grateful, unless I caught one of those specials on Discovery Health about children with severe issues. Then I'd look at my husband and say, "We've been blessed."
Lately, though, I've been wondering if I need to resurrect the second part of that mantra. Raising two 'tween girls can be a befuddling, frightening, exciting and awesome experience. I used to think I'd be up to any challenge a kid could throw at me, but lately I realize how utterly unprepared I am. Let's face it. I was up to the challenge of raising a kid like me: a gawky kid who liked books over boys, a klutz who considered hide-and-seek to be an organized sport, a kid who feared the parental words, "I'm disappointed in you." Instead, I'm dealing with these gorgeous, athletic kids whose interests are completely different than mine were, and the words "I'm disappointed in you" seem to carry no weight.
Now more than ever, I find myself asking God to give me the strength to be the parent these girls need. I'm stunned and scared by the fact that there are no do-overs in parenting. Sure, we joke that some of the things we do are going to land our children in therapy for years, but I don't really mean it. I want to get this one right. I'm thrilled that they're healthy. I pray they remain safe. I hope they discover a normal that works for them. But mostly, I hope God can help me be the parent they need, because I don't think I can do this one alone.