Mothers of Disabled Children

The piece below was written by Erma Bombeck on May 11, 1980, almost three decades ago. It has remained a powerful encouragement to many mothers whose kids have special needs.

Happy Mothers' Day to all you wonderful moms out there, especially my kindred souls who were also chosen to take care of little angels in this world!

:) Ruth

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Most women became mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.

This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth. As he observes, he instructs his angels to make notes.

"Armstrong, Beth; son; patron saint, Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie; daughter; patron saint, Cecilia. Finally he passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."

The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child a mother who does not know laughter?"

"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 that feeling of self and independence that is so 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?

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, there is a woman whom 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 a 'step' ordinary. When her child says 'Mama' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.

I will permit her to see clearly the things I see - ignorance, cruelty, 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."

"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel.

God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."
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