The other day I was walking back from the grocery store with my baby tied around my trunk (I finally found a “wearing” method he’ll tolerate, very profound for us, as he pretty much hates the stroller), groceries in both arms, when I saw two mom friends of mine (I should say, acquaintances) strolling down the other side of the street with their happy babies in their strollers chit chatting back and forth on their way to the park. I had seen the e-mail invite for a play date in the park earlier that day, but in addition to Max’s normal maintenance, he was sick, so I knew I couldn’t go. When I saw these friends walking down the street, the bitter, angry jealousy flowed over me. As I walked the rest of the way home I thought bitterly, “oh, wouldn’t it be nice if all I needed was my baby and a diaper bag to go anywhere…wouldn’t it be convenient if I could just feed my baby anytime and anywhere…wouldn’t it be nice if my child would be happy and content in a stroller?”
Three weeks ago my sister-in-law had her baby. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t rush to give her an emphatic “Congratulations!” The bitter, angry jealousy came over me and I remember thinking, “well of course her baby is healthy.”
I know it’s normal for parents of kids with disabilities to be a little bit jealous of other kids from time to time. It’s not like any child deserves to have a disability, and I think our jealousy is our way of sticking up for our kids. It’s a feeling like “what did my kid do to deserve this when that kid is perfectly healthy.” But although I don’t think it’s abnormal, I still wonder, “Will it ever stop?” Will I ever reach a point where I am happy for the son that I have with no comparisons to others? Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. I love everything about him. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish that he would smile at me – or look me in the eye – or suck on his fingers – or stick them up his nose. I see one-month-old babies and get sad because I wish that Max could do the things that they do. I’ve had all these feelings for 10-months, and I don’t feel like I’m any closer to getting over them. At times I feel like the more behind Max is (the more milestones he’s missed) the more jealous I get of kids his age. Will I ever get over it and be content with my life as it is? Or will I always have moments of jealousy tainting a generally wonderful day?
From time to time, I wonder, if none of this had happened, and Max had stayed the perfectly normal healthy baby that he was in the womb, what would he be like? Would he be crawling yet? What would he laugh at, and what would make him cry? I know this is starting down the road to a dangerous comparison trap, and I don’t want my son to grow up feeling sorry for himself any more than I want to live my life feeling sorry for myself. That’s not healthy. I just seem to have a really hard time breaking out of this pattern.
Any advice? How can I break myself out of a negative thinking pattern into one of joy and gratitude?