In order to write these weekly posts I spend least a few moments each day checking out what's trending in the "mommy blogosphere." I read about the latest in healthy lunch habits and am aware of the potential long-term benefits of attachment parenting. I have some sense of which car seat might keep a child safest. I like to know what parents are buzzing about and fully understand the desire for information that can help make us the best parents we can be.
But it's not often I read something that punches me in straight in the gut and completely alters my understanding of what it truly means to be a parent. This changed last Sunday with a recommended New York Times link on a friend's Facebook page. I almost didn't click through"I felt I'd hit my parenting prose limit for the week.
Trust me, if you haven't yet taken the chance to savor Emily Rapp's brilliant essay, "Notes from a Dragon Mom" you should. And I don't use the word "should" easily -- I just don't think there are that many universal "shoulds" in parenting. But her contribution is unquestionably the most insightful piece on the essence of parenthood I have ever had the honor to read.
The sentiment of what the author reminds us to do--love your child today, because none of this is forever--has echoed around parenting sites for years. I have read enough articles on mindful parenting to know we "should" be tuned in to our kids' here and now. I know I "should" appreciate "living in the moment" because first steps and first smiles only come around once.
But when you are the mother of a child with Tay-Sachs disease this advice has a profoundly different meaning. Rapp's 18 month old son Ronan will not grow up, but instead regress, and will likely die before his third birthday.
Her words are honest and non-judgmental. She knows most of us are fortunate enough to parent for our childrens' futures"and she doesn't begrudge us. But she reminds us that just when we think we understand the meaning of living in the present, we realize how little we know.
Ms. Rapp says in her essay "nobody ever asks dragon parents (her term for parents of terminally ill children) for advice: we're too scary."
I will make a point to ask more often. I have a lot to learn.