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The Middling Place – Two


This is a guest post from my friend Barb, who wrote to me after she read my post on Monday, The Middling Place. She’d sent it to me as an email, but I strong-armed her into allowing me to share it with you, Pranksters. It’s a beautiful post about special needs parenting.

(I’ll probably steal it again for Band Back Together, because I am a jerk like that)

P.S. Barb, I love you.

I, too, live in the Middling Place. Off and on since November 1987.

We will never be able to be completely away from there. It is as much a part of you and I as our livers or kidneys. After a while, you will know when it’s time to be there, the Middling Place.

You feel the cold fog press over you as though someone has thrown burlap trimmed with heavy metal weights over your head. You try to peer out through the gaps, see the world around you, feel the sunshine on your face. Shivering, you watch the images of what may have been. Your child growing up “normally.” Walking, talking, and laughing. I’d even accept the tears.

You see her standing outside of Life, looking in at the others. They are growing, and dancing, sneaking kisses, driving and going to College without much thought. Does she know she is different? Does she feel what I see?

As the seconds and minutes and days and years tumble into the heap called ‘Life,’ you learn to control your tears and overwhelming sadness. ‘Fake it ’til you make it,’ you always say. But when that deafening call sounds within your heart, your soul, your entire being, you know can no longer ignore it.

You’re commodious: ‘I can handle anything” facade crashing noiselessly to the ground, landing as shrapnel at your feet.

You turn and limp wearily to the Middling Place.

You glance back at your parents, your husband, and your other children. You are regretful to leave them, but you have no choice. You are carried away by a force stronger than yourself and soon you relent and let it take you. You are being eaten alive. Gobbled by the ferocious monsters’ hunger, ripping at your flesh, tearing your heart out, laughing clamorously, and finally injecting you heavily with Guilt.

Blame and Fault become your champions, reminding you of the day you sat in the sun too long, or had a sip of your husbands wine or didn’t sleep enough or swam in that river. Her pain, her disfigurement, her disabilities, is of your own making.

Finally, struggling, stumbling, exhausted and weak, you get up on your feet. You straighten your clothes, wipe the tears, and fix your hair. We can’t allow her to see. She can’t know she is the reason.

Back where she is we practice, prepare educate and train, make plans and see ‘Professionals’. We try anything we are told will help her.

She begins to speak! One word, two words, three words in a row! We count for years! Warmed by the silly sentences she utters.

She’s walking now, that jilty gait, like she will spill over at any moment. You valiantly let her go on her own, cringing inside as you imagine what the possibilities are.

“I love you,” you tell her. ‘Yes’ she says. I want to snuggle her, wrap her in my arms and cover her with kisses. She rejects me, cringing as though I am poison.

One day though, she will bring some artwork, a picture of the two of us, she and I, maybe sing a song, and let me touch her hair. Clap, clap clapping loudly through the house will make you smile, because you know she is happy. Her enthusiastic attempts at jokes will make you laugh for days, repeating them to friends who will never understand.

This is our life.

We wish they were different, yet at the same time, we don’t ever want them to change. We love our babies.

They make us stronger, more insightful, more perceptive than before she was here.

Before the Middling Place.

13 Comments to

“The Middling Place – Two”

  1. On February 8th, 2012 at 12:48 pm amy Says:

    This is so touching. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. On February 8th, 2012 at 12:53 pm Benjamin Says:

    The Middling Place is a tough master. The best thing that you can do, is to take Blame and Doubt and all the other champions of hardened hearts and throw them aside. Know that your child is perfect, as they are, and that you are the perfect parent for your child, as much as you can be. Thank you for sharing this with us, being alone is a terrible feeling, and discovering that you’re part of a silent group is one of the most empowering things you can imagine.

  3. On February 8th, 2012 at 1:27 pm Lori (aka Bubbe) Says:

    What a sweet and moving description. Even the pain is so well depicted I hurt with you Barb. Hugs, dear lady, lots and lots of hugs for you.

  4. On February 8th, 2012 at 1:53 pm kimmy Says:

    You are one of the very, very few that can discribe what many of us feel without triggering even more guilt. Its true, we wish they were normal…
    But we never want them to truly change. We love them just as our babies.

  5. On February 8th, 2012 at 1:58 pm Amanda Says:

    That was absolutely beautiful. All I can say is living a life with someone you love having a disability is a constant struggle. But take those beautiful moments and cling to them. They’ll become more frequent and the Middling Place will become a place you visit less and less. Stay strong. Thanks for sharing.

  6. On February 8th, 2012 at 6:26 pm Kristin Says:

    Oh Barb, this moved me to tears. It is such a beautiful post.

  7. On February 8th, 2012 at 6:45 pm Jennifer Madrigal Says:

    I have a 8 year old little boy who is deaf, autistic, and lots of other fun stuff. He is the love of my life and brings joy to everyone, including his 2 older brothers, around him. He has made me a better mother, person, wife, friend, etc. However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that there are some many times when I question everything and am overwhelmed with guilt about NOT doing never ends..the guilt..the worry..the wonder if HE knows he’s different or if he knows just how special he really is. Your post was beautiful!

  8. On February 8th, 2012 at 7:34 pm Dawnie Says:

    What a beautiful post. Thanks for strong-arming Barb into sharing it.

  9. On February 8th, 2012 at 9:42 pm weekly joy Says:

    Wow. Just wow! I’m truly moved and so honored you shared your beautiful feelings with us webworldians.

  10. On February 9th, 2012 at 1:24 am Audrey Says:

    There aren’t words for how deeply I comprehend your pain. I don’t have a special needs child. But the weight of every decision I’ve ever made as mom almost drowns me daily. You have my prayers and my most heart felt desire for you and your daughter to have a mom and me moment on film for you to treasure love you

  11. On February 9th, 2012 at 7:34 am Masala Chica Says:

    What a moving piece. This gripped me from beginning to end and I can’t believe it was initially in the form of an email. On to other things though.

    I don’t have a special needs child but my heart aches just reading this piece. In many ways as mothers, we all feel like we are lost on this middling place. My own middling place was when I thought I was going to lose my newborn to spinal meningitis when he was 7 days old. I could not move for days as I waited for the results with him lying listless in my arms, wires and needles dragging from his bassinett.

    The weight of the middle when you have a special needs child must be challenging to deal with. The beauty of your words reveal the beauty of your soul and I believe (how presumptuous, I know) that you must be one hell of a mother. The weight will always be there but it will lighten with time. And the feelings you have of blame on yourself – they happen to every mother and we all did things (well I know I did) more irresponsible that that. Throw the guilt away. You are going to move beyond the middling place to a place of depth and beauty that many women will never know.

    Blessings to you for sharing.

  12. On February 10th, 2012 at 1:14 pm Jillian Says:

    Simply beautiful…thank you for helping me understand.

  13. On February 17th, 2012 at 9:18 am kim Says:

    Amen! I once read that learning you’re having a child with disabilities is like planning forever to take a trip to England and landing in Africa wondering what in the hell you’re going to do now. It’s so true. I have an 18 year old daughter with disabilities…

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