Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Before and After Zachariah - Fern Kupfer's confessional memoir on raising a brain-damaged child

Greetings, commies!
As we celebrate March 8th, Women's Day, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the whole concept of women's solidarity and their treatment of each other. It's no secret that women can be each other's greatest allies, but they can also be each other's cruelest judges. Mommy Wars seem to have gotten more intense over the years. It's not just about working versus stay-at-home moms. It's about mothers of neurotypical children and special needs children. As a first (and only) time mother, I struggled with the new responsibility. My child was fairly healthy, and I continued working, but I had to make some adjustments to my schedule because of some transient medical needs that he had. Still, on those days when I was at home with a sick child, I felt incredibly isolated. I cannot even imagine what it feels like being stuck at home with a child who has serious medical or developmental issues. I'll be the first one to admit that I am NOT a super mom who thinks that "a special child is a special blessing". When I hear ultra religious people say those things, I cannot help but question their sincerity. Do they really fill this way? Have they convinced themselves that they were chosen by God to parent this un-parentable child? Or are they just ashamed to admit how they really feel? Do they regret having this child? Do they secretly wish the child would "go away"?

A woman from a parenting group I belong to recommended this book by Fern Kupfer, Before & After Zachariah. Even though Kupfer cites many confessional passages from other mothers who had severely handicapped children, she does not speak on behalf of all women. She gives every woman a voice, but she does not become a mouth piece. It's something I respect and appreciate. She does not put herself on the pedestal of martyrdom. Every experience is unique, and every mother's emotional bandwidth varies. Until it happens to you, you don't know your strong spots, and you don't know your fragile spots. Sometimes you break in places you did not expect to break.

Warning: this book uses the word "retarded", which has seems to fallen out of favor with the politically correct crowd. This book is also not for those from the "what doesn't break you makes you stronger" camp or from the "God won't give you more than you can handle."

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