Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Blue eyes, fences, and baby boys

The other night in our house there was a lot of drama. By drama I mean yelling, screaming, crying, real tears, and proclamations of a ruined life.  All of this was over the fact that my daughter is the only human in our household that doesn’t have blue eyes.  Apparently, blue eyes work with more make-up colors, hair colors, and are just prettier. And it just isn’t fair that she got hazel eyes instead of blue like the rest of us.  I tried to point out that she has absolutely beautiful hazel eyes and that she has the kind of hair that most dream about.  None of this matters because she doesn’t have blue eyes. 

I was really frustrated by this entire exchange and it’s one that I have relived in my head several times (not to mention my daughter is still fixated on this topic). I started to realize that it is the classic the- grasser-is-always-greener syndrome.  Then, I realized with sickening clarity that it is a syndrome that we all fall victim to way too often.

When I learned I was pregnant with my second child, I assumed I would have another girl. After all, I knew how to dress, interact with, and raise girls. Of course the universe would give me another girl.  And then the ultrasound tech said “it’s a boy” and I couldn’t have been more shocked or horrified.  What in the heck was I going to do with a son?  I lamented and probably even shed a few tears because having a girl was going to be more fun or easier or whatever it is that my subconscious was thinking.  After holding him for the first time, any fears or dismay that I had over having a son disappeared.  It wasn’t and it isn’t horrific having a son; it is just different and honestly it is amazing.

I think the desire of every to-be parent is to have a happy and healthy baby.  In fact, it’s the standard that we dream of and plan for; the ideal that every baby book is written for.  It’s the assumption underlying every “memories” book that is on the market at the moment. Anything less is the equivalent of brown and brittle grass; the green grass is over there with the healthy, diagnosis-free children.  Learning that my daughter had a chronic lifelong illness or that my son had autism wasn’t anywhere on my mental radar.  It was shocking, dismaying, and flat out disheartening; it was also paralyzing because I was focused on the other grass and how to get there instead of joining the scenery and attractions on my side of the fence. 

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have planned any of this, but at the same time it only has to be paralyzing and miserable if I am intent on focusing on the grass on someone else’s side of the fence.  My daughter has been through way too much medically, but through it all we’ve learned some pretty amazing coping skills that benefit us in all aspects of life. I’ve also learned about other’s life experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise known or cared about; without a doubt that knowledge has made me a better person.  I hate to watch my son struggle, and I doubt I will ever appreciate autism itself, but when I take that out of the mental picture, I have a pretty cool son.  He has a quirky sense of humor and some amazing strengths that are unique to him.  I’ve truly learned what patience means and I have a perspective now on disability and life-challenge that I could have never gotten third hand.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have all of the perspective that I do, but at the same time I’ve started to realize that grass comes in all shades and textures.  The grass on my side of the fence isn’t the same as the grass over the fence, but it is still grass and it is pretty amazing grass when I look at it for what it is instead of what it isn’t.  

I think maybe that is one of those secrets of life; look at things for what they are rather than what they aren’t.  That’s my newest approach for dealing with the blue eye drama; I’m cutting out lots of articles about fabulous hazel eyes and I’m sharing them all with my daughter. Of course if that fails, there are always blue contacts. Sometimes we can change the grass that we have with a little replanting and strategic fertilizer. However you choose to enjoy it, just remember that the crazy really isn’t always greener somewhere else and there is really no place like home.  Therefore the grass at home is probably pretty amazing when you let yourself think that way.