Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother Privilege


Good Sunday evening. 

There's no chance I'll have a moment to sit at the computer tomorrow until very late in the day. My plan was to give myself a week off, but as it happens I have a few thoughts.

First, I did blog last week, & that can be found - - - > here if you missed it. 

I've had a lovely Mother's Day. The children both came home from school last week with the most perfect, personalized gifts (one of which is a coffee mug with Henry's face on it; I don't know who loves it more, me or him). Today Trey gave me a beautiful necklace that is really undercutting his claim that money is a factor in his non-moving across town stance. My plan is to return to you next week & share a lot of photos, & included with those photos will be pictures of the aforementioned gifts. Right now loading photos onto my computer is not in the cards. Sorry. Tonight it's just me carrying on for a bit.

I have intentionally not spent much time on social media today. We had a frenzied family cleaning of the house this afternoon, & just recently it dawned on me I am required to have spring semester grades submitted by noon tomorrow, which means I have to have them submitted tonight given tomorrow's string of Reagan-centered events. Awards Day will give way to Field Day which will give way to piano lessons which will give way, finally, to the official start of summer for us. 

Had I not been otherwise occupied I'd likely have largely avoided social media today anyway because, to be honest, in the last few years social media has become oddly unbearable on Mother's Day. I certainly like seeing everyone's photos, but there is a lot of sorrow that surfaces on Mother's Day. People have *a lot* of feelings about Mother's Day, & social media makes it possible for everyone to share their feelings with a wide audience. There is a point at which it all becomes too much for me on a day like today. What I mean is I reach a point at which I feel guilty for  enjoying the day because I am (if I allow) constantly reminded via social media of all the reasons why today is painful for some. Is that terrible of me to admit? Is it terrible for me to feel this way? Maybe it is. That's sort of what I've been working through in my head that led me to sit & write. 

Something happened last night while Trey & I were out to dinner that reminded me of the opening lines of The Great Gatsby (yes, Trey & I went out last night all by ourselves . . . we ate dinner & then drove around looking at houses, which was hilarious & excruciating simultaneously due to Trey's running commentary). 

Anyway, These are the opening lines of Gatsby:

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. 

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.”

Yesterday I didn't eat much all day. I was busy doing stuff around the house, including bathing the kids (which is always my cardio on Saturdays). I knew Trey & I would be sitting down to eat all by ourselves later in the evening, & I wanted my stomach to be pretty empty at that point so I could make the most of a kid-free meal at a restaurant. By the time I dressed & we dropped the kids off at Trey's parents' house I was miserable. There was about a five minute wait before we were seated, & I thought I would die right there in the restaurant during those interminable five minutes. I was hungry, yes, but I realized my blood sugar was probably a little low. I'd have checked it had I had the necessary equipment, but of course all that was with Reagan. My guess is my number was in the sixties or low seventies. I felt terrible. 

It occurred to me as I was waiting for our appetizer to arrive that the misery I felt was a hint of the misery Reagan feels when she says she feels low. Sometimes her low is seventy, but sometimes it's fifty. The lowest number I've seen since her diagnosis was twenty-eight. I cannot imagine what twenty-eight feels like.

My body will give me a little glucagon to keep me from plummeting much lower than seventy; Reagan's body doesn't do that. Her body doesn't regulate blood sugar at all; it doesn't give her insulin to keep her from skyrocketing, & it doesn't give her glucagon to keep her from plummeting. That lack of regulation keeps me on my toes, & it's not often I wonder how she physically feels. I react to the numbers on the screen in hopes of achieving better numbers. It's a numbers game for me, but it is an intensely physical, personal thing for her. I thought about all that last night as I was shoveling chips in my mouth once our blessed appetizer arrived. I could feel my blood sugar rising; my whole body was revived. 

My very minor & short-lived low blood sugar incident coupled with my Mother's Day social media aversion made me think of the opening lines of Gatsby, lines that encourage the reader to be slow to judge, always remembering that we walk only in our own shoes, we see the world only through our own eyes. I have what I've termed Mother Privilege. I was raised by a wonderful mother, & I am a mother to two wonderful kids. There are so many people for whom one or both of those statements are not true. Mother's Day doesn't carry the weight of sadness for me that it does for others; I should always remember that. I suppose I also have Pancreas Privilege; Reagan does not.

I know exactly what it feels like to approach what is, for many people, a happy, festive occasion with sadness & feelings of anger; this is how I feel about so many of the events in Reagan's life that revolve around things she does not need to eat in any significant amount. Few people understand why I have issues with a child's birthday party; it's a happy occasion, right? Mother's Day is a happy occasion, right? It all depends on whom you're asking.

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.” 

I told you last week I think a lot about Gatsby this time of year, & obviously I was not lying. Additionally, our next door neighbor has a new puppy named Daisy, & I can sometimes hear her calling Daisy, & so that only adds more fuel to my Gatsby fire.

I hope this has made some sense & not been a waste of your time to read. I am truly sorry for those of you for whom this day is hard, & there are so many reasons why this day is difficult for some. I probably won't ever know exactly how Reagan feels, the physical toll her disease takes on her day in & day out, but just a glimpse of it last night made me think long & hard about life through her eyes. That's all those of us who use social media or reach out in other ways desire; we want our reality, which is sometimes physically or emotionally painful, acknowledged. We want to be heard. We seek the prayers of others. We invite others to just, even for one moment, consider the world through our eyes. It is worth the effort, & it is Christlike, to take the time to consider the world through the eyes of someone else, especially someone who has not & does not enjoy the advantages you do.

Henry went to Kiroli Park one day last week with his classmates; Reagan went to school that day. Reagan has Field Day tomorrow; Henry will be running errands around town with me. One thing I strive very hard to teach my kids is that life isn't fair, & things are not equal. This is something Reagan has to learn. She has to learn to mentally handle her disease, to be thankful for the health she does have, to be thankful for the family & material possessions she has, to use her affliction in whatever way she can to reach out to others, to show them it is possible to be healthy & happy & live a purposeful, meaningful life despite what was & remains a crappy (for lack of a better word) diagnosis at the age of three that will impact her tremendously for the remainder of her life.

I don't know why the pancreatic odds were not in Reagan's favor; I don't think about it much. I don't know why I was blessed with two healthy kids when many women have not been blessed with children despite that being their desire. I don't know why I was blessed with a loving, wonderful mother when other equally deserving people were not.

The goal, what matters, is to teach the kids to love Jesus & be like Him, & ultimately in so doing to teach them that they must be cognizant of & thankful for their blessings & their abilities while simultaneously cognizant of the pain & loss of others. Acknowledge the suffering of others. Pray for them, even on (& especially on) days like today. Their suffering should remind you of your blessings. Be thankful for your own blessings; it's fine to be happy & hug your mom & hug your kids today, but afford others the grace to express their sorrow, because you need & desire the same grace from them on your days of sorrow.

I shall return, the Lord willing, in a week's time with a backlog of photos & an update on our exciting summer plans. Have a wonderful week.


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