Monday, January 04, 2010

how not to judge

"Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him."
- Goethe

It's a bit strange to be posting so much after such frequent droughts. :)
But since I made my "resolutions" post I have been assaulted by a few, but buoyed up by far more, and it wouldn't make sense not to talk about such an experience.

It seems a couple people think that the video of Em's grinding somehow proves that she is utterly miserable with our family and is doing worse than she was in the orphanage. I'm still amazed how anyone can so freely (mis)judge someone they've never met, but as I've been picking through my thoughts about all this today I realize I shouldn't be too surprised. I was - and really still am sometimes - guilty of the same.

Children with special needs teach us so many things. But I have come to realize that the most precious lesson is that of judgement.

Before Dawson's diagnosis, I couldn't understand why a mother couldn't just accept the child life had given her. But then I felt her anguish and fear myself, and I learned how not to judge.

Before we brought Emerson home, I couldn't understand why women with fertility struggles didn't just adopt - it was all the same to the woman, after all, and the kids needed help. But then I experienced firsthand the slow bonding with another's child versus the easier bond with a biological baby, and I learned how not to judge.

Before raising a child with more severe special needs, I couldn't understand why any woman would ever even think about terminating after a prenatal diagnosis. But then I felt the heartbreak of seeing a child struggle just to be part of her surroundings and though I still believe it is not the right decision, I now have nothing but compassion for those moms. I learned how not to judge.

Before adopting a previously institutionalized child, I couldn't understand how any family could ever, ever disrupt. I had never even heard of such a thing and I will never forget coming across a family who had disrupted for the first time before we traveled to Serbia and sharing my disbelief - and even disgust - with Matt. But then I experienced firsthand the pain of stressful behaviors and problems with attachment and I understood and my heart broke for any family that ever walked this path before me. I learned how not to judge.

Dawson and Emerson have both shown me every step of the way how to be not a better person, but more of a real person. These children are angels - angels undeserved, for sure - not because of their unique perfection but because of their unique ability to show us that imperfection is perfect, their amazing gift to teach us how not to judge others but especially how not to judge ourselves.

If you haven't yet learned those lessons, I hope someday you will. In the meantime, I will continue to share honestly - albeit somewhat dramatically! - what it is like for many of us on this journey. I am not alone, and for those reading this who have or who will share some of these same doubts, fears and negative emotions - YOU are not alone.

I took another video of Em today while she was playing in the living room but when I was uploading that I came across this older one on my camera and I couldn't help but post this instead. This is from August or so. This is my Em. The one who shares her brother's smile that seems to come from some deep joyful place within that the rest of us can only experience in glimpses. Sometimes she is hiding, but she is there. I get to see her everyday and the criticism I have received has only made me more determined not to let myself get swallowed by emotions, not to forget that decisions made with a cool head instead of a rash judgement are always the best ones, and not to give up.

Today during lunch Em was grinding so hard she was crying after each time. But she kept doing it, like she couldn't stop. And suddenly I felt absolutely certain that she was in pain. The grinding is a habit for her, I think, but the way she has been lost in it lately is not like her. We originally thought the fluid in her ears was responsible for the grinding, but after the PE tubes were placed the grinding got even worse. But something is not right in there. We called her ENT this afternoon asking for an appointment. They won't see her before the 14th unless there is a cancelation so she'll be going to the pedi tomorrow in the meantime in hopes he might see something in there.

We will figure this out.