I received this during our struggle to find a diagnosis for Nathan. I hope it brings comfort to you as it did to me.
Editors note: Erma Bombeck is on vacation. She left behind a few of the “classics” most often requested by readers. This one first appeared in 1980.
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, and few by social pressures,and some by habit. This year, nearly 100,000 women will become the mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to write in a giant ledger.
“Armstrong, Beth; son; patron saint, Matthew.”
“Forrest, Marjorie; daughter; patron saint, Cecelia.”
“Rutledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint…give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”
Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles, “Give her a handicapped child.”
The angel is curious. “Why this one, God? She is so happy.”
“Exactly,” smiles God. “Could I give a handicapped child a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”
“But has she patience?” asks the angel.
“I don’t want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she’ll handle it.” ” I watched her today. She has the feeling of self and independence that is rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has his own world. She has to make it live in her world, and that’s not going to be easy.”
“But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.” God smiles.
” No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness.”
The angel gasps, ” Selfishness? Is that a virtue?”
God nods. ” If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she’ll never survive. Yes, there is a woman who I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a ‘spoken word’. She will never consider as ‘step’ ordinary. When her child says ‘Momma’ for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or sunset to her child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.” ” I will permit her to see clearly the things I see- ignorance, cruelly, prejudice, and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.”
“And what about her patron saint? Asks the angel.
God smiles. ” A mirror will suffice”