Some Mothers Get Babies
With Something More
By: Lori Borgman, Columnist and Speaker
My friend is expecting her first child. People keep asking what she
wants. She smiles demurely, shakes her head and gives the answer mothers
have given throughout the pages of time. She says it doesn't matter
whether it's a boy or a girl. She just wants it to have ten fingers and
Of course, that's what she says. That's what mothers have always said.
Truth be told, every mother wants a whole lot more. Every mother wants a
perfectly healthy baby with a round head, rosebud lips, button nose,
beautiful eyes, satin skin and straight feet. Every mother wants a baby
so gorgeous that people will pity the Gerber baby for being flat-out
Every mother wants a baby that will roll over, sit up and take those
first steps right on schedule (according to the baby development chart
on page 57, column two). Every mother wants a baby that can see, hear,
run, jump and fire neurons by the billions. She wants a kid that can
smack the ball out of the park and do toe points that are the envy of
the entire ballet class.
Call it greed if you want, but we mothers want what we want.
Some mothers get babies with something more.
Some mothers get babies with conditions they can't pronounce, a spine
that didn't fuse, a missing chromosome, a palette that didn't close or a
tiny crooked foot or two. Most of those mothers can remember the time,
the place, the shoes they were wearing and the color of the walls in the
small, suffocating room where the doctor uttered the words that took
their breath away. It felt like recess in the fourth grade when you
didn't see the kick ball coming and it knocked the wind clean out of
Some mothers leave the hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months,
even years later, take him in for a routine visit, or schedule her for a
well check, and crash head first into a brick wall as they bear the
brunt of devastating news. It can't be possible! That doesn't run in our
family. Can this really be happening in our lifetime?
I am a woman who watches the Olympics for the sheer thrill of seeing
finely sculpted bodies. It's not a lust thing; it's a wondrous thing.
The athletes appear as specimens without flaw - rippling muscles with
nary an ounce of flab or fat, virtual powerhouses of strength with lungs
and limbs working in perfect harmony. Then the athlete walks over to a
tote bag, rustles through the contents and pulls out an inhaler.
As I've told my own kids, be it on the way to physical therapy after a
third knee surgery, or on a trip home from an echo cardiogram, there's
no such thing as a perfect body. Every body will bear something at some
time or another. Maybe the affliction will be apparent to curious eyes,
or maybe it will be unseen, quietly treated with trips to the doctor,
medication or surgery. The health problems our children have experienced
have been minimal and manageable, so I watch with keen interest and
great admiration the mothers of children with serious disabilities, and
wonder how they do it.
Frankly, sometimes you mothers scare me. How you lift that child in and
out of a wheelchair 20 times a day. How you monitor tests, track
medications, regulate diet and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred
specialists yammering in your ear. I wonder how you endure the clichés
and the platitudes, well-intentioned souls explaining how God is at work
when you've occasionally questioned if God is on strike. I even wonder
how you endure schmaltzy pieces like this one -- saluting you, painting
you as hero and saint, when you know you're ordinary. You snap, you
bark, you bite. You didn't volunteer for this, you didn't jump up and
down in the motherhood line yelling, "Choose me, God. Choose me! I've
got what it takes." You're a woman who doesn't have time to step back
and put things in perspective, so, please, let me do it for you.
From where I sit, you're way ahead of the pack. You've developed the
strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil.
You have a heart that melts like chocolate in a glove box in July,
carefully counter-balanced against the stubbornness of an Ozark mule.
You can be warm and tender one minute, and when circumstances require,
intense and aggressive the next. You are the mother, advocate and
protector of a child. You're a neighbor, a friend, a stranger I pass at
the mall. You're the woman I sit next to at church, my cousin and my
You're a woman who wanted ten fingers and ten toes, and got something
You're a wonder.
here for information on Services and Ministries for Persons with
Disabilities in the Diocese of Cleveland
If you would like to receive occasional
notifications of updates to this website,
If you no longer wish to receive occasional
notifications of updates to this website,
Last Update to this page was
March 15, 2011
Copyright © 2006 Dennis C. McNulty