Friday, March 24, 2017

The Right Kid

A few weeks ago, a solar panel sales guy knocked on my door. At some point during his super annoying sales pitch (no offense to sales people, he just wasn't good at it and was overly aggressive in my opinion) CB came bounding up behind me to try and get out the front door. Or say hi to him. Not really sure what her motivation was. After a brief interaction with her and successful redirection, I turned my attention back to the gentleman at the door and gave my one sentence "elevator pitch" explanation about CB... as if he probably couldn't have figured it out already at that point.

He took this as his potential "in" because, lo-and-behold, years ago HE worked at a group home for young adults with cognitive disabilities. We chatted about it for a few minutes, I asked him where he worked and how he liked it, and all those niceties (of course, still not interested in buying his solar panels, by the way). Then, he tells me that after about a year working there, he was burned out and left. His exact quote: "I couldn't take it anymore."

"I couldn't take it anymore." He even chuckled after saying it, as if we were compadres, commiserating together. I'm not even going to pontificate on how it must be nice to just decide you're "not going to take it" anymore and walk away when sh*t gets hard, but that's not really the road I want to go down right now.

It wasn't about his "job," (the administration, the pay, the benefits or lack thereof) it was the CLIENTELE that he couldn't take anymore. He made that pretty clear when he talked about "their" behavior and "their" level of care. I'm not one to be overly politically correct or nit-pick over semantics, but honestly... he could have explained himself in a variety of different ways. He could have said it was a rewarding but very emotionally draining job. He could have said it was tougher than he realized. He could have said it was a challenging population and he learned a lot that year, but realized it wasn't the right job for him. But, instead he chose to say "I couldn't take it anymore."

I mean, are you that clueless or that insensitive of a human being? Are you seriously going to say that to a mom of an adult daughter with severe disabilities? A daughter you JUST saw come up to the door? Then he added, as if throwing me a bone: "I don't know how people like you do it." Oh, thanks. Was that supposed to be a compliment?  Perhaps he was trying some version of compassion. Except it wasn't compassion, it was pity. I'm the pitiful mom who had drawn the short straw. Someone who was blessed in all these ways - big house, great husband, three smart, sweet, kind, beautiful and healthy children... but then there is the "other" one.

And, while there are moments where I feel like I truly can't take it anymore and there are moments when I sincerely don't know how I do it, that's not the lens through which I see my daughter nor the relationship I am blessed to have with her. That's not the narrative of my life.

A few days after that jerk knocked on my door, I went to do my volunteer work with a group of women who started out as strangers but whom I now hold near and dear. One of these women, a mother and grandmother, started telling me a story about something she saw on television that had to do with Autism. She began asking me questions about CB, truly caring questions. I could tell she was so genuinely interested in knowing about our relationship, and what it was like to be CB's mom. I love when people really want to get to know me and truly know my family, not just the glossy exterior. No pity. No canonizing me for sainthood for doing nothing more than loving my children.  Just seeking knowledge and understanding.

As our conversation came to a close and we said our goodbyes at the front door, she became momentarily choked up and said warmly: "Your daughter... she got the right mom."

And I told her, "No, you got it all wrong. I got the right kid."


Jennifer said...

I'm the mom of a severely disabled 8 year old son. He has Autism, Tourette's, Seizures and many other disabilities I won't name here.
We get stupid comments all the time about things he says or things he does. All those dumbass comments
from people who didn't have a clue what it was like to be my son really made me angry

Until I had a heartfelt conversation with a grandmother who's granddaughter has disabilities very similar to my son's
She said to me. "Those people don't have a clue who your son is or what you go through on a daily basis. Most of them
of them are just trying to find their way out of a very rude comment. You can either give them a shovel so they can keep
digging or you can hand them a ladder. It's your choice"

There are too many things in this world to be angry about.

Elizabeth said...

You know how much I can relate to this post and love it. First of all, allow me to say "Fuck you," to that kid or young man. There are, apparently, always going to be that sort in the world, and after our initial attempts at compassion and understanding, they aren't ever going to get it and deserve if not contempt than dismissal.

Your CB is such a gorgeous young woman. Her eyes are so deep -- fathomless -- yet I know from you that she is CB, a beautiful, funny and quirky human making her way on the planet.

Sending love to you and to her --

Anonymous said...

What's up with CB's ears? She never wore ear protectors before. Does she wear them only under certain circumstances?


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