On parenting and care giving

This is not a very well structured post..it’s just a lot of thoughts that have been floating around in my head….

Close on the heels A’s surgery came news of Lakshmi, a two year old child. This was no mean surgery, a marathon 40 hour effort on the little girl who was born with the limbs and other organs of her parasitic twin. The surgery was basically to remove the extra limbs, set right her kidneys amongst other highly complicated things.

I have seen two people go through surgery..my mother and brother, both were relatively simple surgeries, nothing major. Yet it was highly nerve wracking and scary and had all of us in tenterhooks.  It makes it that much harder when the sick person takes the whole thing stoically and displaying all the strength..makes you just want to swap places with them and go through the sufferring rather than watch them go through this. 

When you feel that way about relatively minor things I couldn’t even begin to imagine the anxiety and the complete feeling of rottenness that must have overcome Lakshmi’s parents. How do u feel when your baby is born with so many complications, how do you feel when you are told that your little child will not survive beyond adolescence  if she doesnt go through a complex surgery that would last 40 hours…nearly two days? How do you last through a surgery like that…watching different batches of doctors enter and leave the theatre, wondering what part of her they are cutting up now?

My mother has two handicapped siblings..her brother is hearing impaired and her sister is both visual and hearing impaired. How did my grandparents handle such earth shatterring realities? What is it like to know that the children that you have given birth to will not lead a normal life and that something will hold them back always…I remember my grandma telling me about one issue she was faced with raising two handicapped children alongside two normal children. The challenge was to treat all of them equally…you couldn’t give the handicapped children too many concessions, that would spoil them and at the same time make the other two felt less loved, on the other hand letting the normal children do their own thing could affect the handicapped children and make them feel deprived…at the same time you can’t cramp the style of normal children just because they have been born with disbled siblings..

How do people get the strength to deal with such extraordinary situations in life? I was thinking these things when I read Cee Kay’s post on her daughter’s unfortunate orthodontic trouble. She talks about the Serenity prayer, words that ring so true I am amazed at the person who actually articulated them. Yes drawing on prayer and trying to maintain a positive attitude are things that carry us through these helpless times. Of course there are bigger issues than an weak jaw or an infection in the back but its very difficult to rationalise and think in that manner. But I find trying to do that really helps.

There were points in life when I was wallowing in self pity about the fact that we didn’t have money and that I couldn’t afford to even pay my college fees…and I used to feel mighty sorry and wretched about the whole thing. But one day I found myself thinking that I should be grateful that I was getting food in my mouth, that I had a house to live in, that difficult or not I was getting a decent education that now enables me to live in such comfort I never thought possible…There are people on the roads dying of starvation, of the cold, heat…what was I cribbing about. That realisation really helped me deal with my problem in a manner that was better than self pity!! I’m sure there’s always someone dealing with a worse situation than you..It’s tough no doubt to think that way and calls for a great deal of maturity that’s very difficult to conjure up in situations that leave you just wanting to curse your fate and cry…but it helps in however small a way.. I’m not sure however that this would work when dealing with the death of a loved one or something similar..

I also don’t know what gives people the strength to go through difficult circumstances when a seemingly easier alternative is available..like why would my mother choose to stick to her alcoholic, gambler husband? Why did she not leave him the minute she knew? She was not a weak woman who needed the support of a man…she has practically raised us herself..given us as much security that we could get by with and has made us whole level headed people. Why does she put up with so much nonsense..is it that she is so evolved that she knew ages ago before all the counselling that my dad needed her…he is a sick person,  alcoholism is a disease, a mental disorder…When he gambled away all his money, wasnt she who put food in his mouth? When he was too drunk to even move, wasnt she who put him in hospital and got his burnt insides back into some reasonable shape? She could have easily walked away from the situation with me in tow and lead an easier life than this..of course a single mother has issues but not comparable to this..

I’m not sure I’ve articulated my feelings too well…this has been surprisingly difficult to write, guess because I’ve found a connection in seemingly random things…


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