“You need to claim the events in your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.” Florida Scott-Maxwell
In my exhuberance I was so confident, so sure I could handle what had been described as the most difficult and most important job, that of raising a child. A daughter, a newborn baby girl lay in my arms. My pregnancy had been marked by severe complications, yet we both made it. I now stared at her perfect, pink face with its tiny bow mouth. I had no doubt about my ability to parent. I knew that because she was so intensely loved, she would grow and develop in predictable ways. And she did.
Five years later we adopted a baby boy. Again, my capacity to love was surely sufficient. Yet this child did not respond in predictable ways to our abundant nurturing. He puzzled us. He was labeled a slow learner, did not talk until age 3. More labels when he started school. Then destructive behaviors, stealing. Acting out his frustrations they said. But we could do this. We channeled him into successes. He was beautiful and wonderful and loving. And defiant. We could not control this child. But we loved him.
He died last April of a drug overdose. Some close friends in an effort to console me said things like, “You couldn’t have done any more than you did.” Or, “You were such good parents.” Then, to shore up their claim, they would point to our daughter.
But what I know is that neither one of my children is a testament to my parenting, or to the amount of love and nurturance they received. To think that I controlled either of them is an illusion. Perhaps I had more opportunities to make mistakes with my son. Did I do everything I could? I’ll always be plagued with that question. What I must claim is that I raised two children. I loved them both.