Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why Me? Why Not?

With the current poor economy and the outbreak of so many illnesses and the increase in autism and whatever else one can think of, I've noticed a new sort of disease. Why Me Syndrome. I have some thoughts on this that are mine and mine alone. I'm going to share them and you're welcome to read on with the understanding that I'm in no way trying to be unsympathetic to the plight of those who suffer. On the contrary, my thoughts and prayers are continually with those who weep, suffer, and are heavy burdened.

I think it needs to be put out there that no person is ever going to be exempt from pain and suffering at some point in life. Why, then, do we often find people crying "why me?" when bad things happen? Sometimes I feel like the only answer I can give is "Why not you? What have you done to exempt you from ever having undesirable things happen to you?"

Let me explain myself. It's my firm belief that muscle can only be built through hard work and endurance. The same goes for emotional and spiritual muscle. If we don't have opportunities to endure, we don't have the chance to build our emotional and spiritual muscle. While times of trial and tribulation can often seem like a dark tunnel with no light in sight while we're in the midst of them, it's undeniable that we come out stronger because of them. We may not see it right away, or maybe not ever in this life, but the painful hardships we endure today are providing the framework for the stronger, more capable people we have the potential to become tomorrow.

I get asked the same question all the time. It's not always phrased the same way, but the jist is the same. "How do you do it, Aimee? How do you handle five very young children, three of whom have special needs? Do you ever wonder why you are the one with these children and these difficulties?" I'll tell you how.

It's very simple really. I was taught from a very young age that the trials we face in this life are God's way of complimenting us. We are told that God won't ever give us more than we can handle with His help. If He honestly believes that I can handle all that He's given me, He must think very highly of me. And that is a compliment.

Another thing that leaves me feeling okay about mothering these particular children is greed. Plain and simple. I'm greedy. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that enduring to the end will result in guaranteed blessings, and I will do anything to earn more. I know that these blessings come because I've experienced it first hand. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that my family and I have had far more goodness in our lives than we've had hardships. It's not even always so much in a spiritual sense. Sometimes it's just plain and simple happiness. Before we had children with special needs, we were unable to see the amazing details of day to day life. We didn't realize how amazing it is to see your child walk for the first time, or to hear him utter his first real word. We took good general health for granted. The task of breathing in and out while still keeping our hearts pumping was mundane and never thought of. Now, I relish the time I spend just watching Little Guy breathe in and out and in and out. And I'm happy for those things.

I think there are many people who live by the misguided notion that living a life that is good and faithful to whatever religion they embrace should exempt them from pain. The truth is that there is really no "vaccine" for hardship. No one can prevent it from spreading to themselves. Living a good and faithful life is simply one way to find the tools to face pain head-on when it comes. When we live by the principles of some gospel and have a belief in some sort of God, we give our lives a sense of purpose and meaning. We give ourselves an outlet through which we can seek out peace and comfort. All of these things can ease the pains we suffer, though they can't prevent them from coming in the first place.

Setting aside the spiritual aspects of it all, I have to ask why NOT me? Were I to sit down and cry and pout and beg someone to explain why me, I would hope someone would point out that I am no different than any other person on this planet. I don't come with some special ticket that allows me to go directly to the front of the happiness line. Last I checked, there was no "get out of jail" card for pain and suffering. Why and how could I for one minute think to myself "why me?".

If not me, then who? Who would I see fit to suffer my pains and frustrations and disappointments? What makes me so much better than anyone else that I should think I don't "deserve" this to happen to me? Really, who does deserve to suffer? Is there one person more deserving of afflictions like cancer than another? Does one set of parents "deserve" a perfectly healthy baby more than another set of parents? Does one baby deserve to come into the world and become part of a healthy well-functioning family more than another baby? Were we really able to decide who to give pain to, how would we decide that? How, as a society, would we decide why one person over another?

I'm not going to lie. It's not easy. I've had frustrations time and time again. I've had times where it just seemed like one bad situation after another was piling on me. There have been times that I've felt that I just needed to sit down and cry, and that's precisely what I've done. Just cry. I get tired, so very tired sometimes. Sometimes I want to run and hide because I feel woefully inadequate for the responsibilities placed before me. On occasion, I have to acknowledge that it hurts to know that so many people look at my children with pity. Who wants perfect strangers to feel sorry for their children? No, it's not easy. It never has been.

To those who ask me how I do it, I want to say that I really can't imagine not doing it. Mothering these children is what I was born to do. They are my purpose. I don't know that I had the tools to provide all that they needed from day one, but I know I've worked hard to gain those tools, and in so doing I've become a better person. Facing my hardships head on has made me a stronger person in so many aspects of my life. I've looked the fear of failure in the eye and beaten it. I'm by no means the perfect mom. I never will be. But I, with all of my shortcomings, am the perfect mom for them. That I know for sure.

I don't know that my ramblings have made any sense in terms of the Why Me Syndrome I see so often. My point is simple, though. When we sit down and cry, why me, we miss out on seeing the opportunities for growth right in front of us. Whether it be growth for our caregivers in our times of physical weakness, or our own opportunities to gain knowledge, or simply the opportunity to come to really appreciate life for all it is, the opportunities are there.

My plate is full. All our plates are really overflowing with stress, worry, pain, frustration, and whatever else is weighing on us. I can't ask why me because I honestly can't think of one reason why NOT me.


  1. Very well put. You are so right. hugs.

  2. WOW, just what I needed to hear this morning! Thanks for the inspiring post!!

  3. you're awesome! that is so great, I'm a mom of 3 boys under 4, the oldest with cp, and this is exactly how I feel!

  4. What an absolutely beautiful essay! You are right on. I commented in a church lesson the other day, I feel sorry for people who don't have trials because they allow you to develop qualities you wouldn't get in any other way. When you are in "the club", you appreciate everything so much more! Yes, I get kicked in the nose, poked in the eye, scratched on the neck and must wrestle with a hundred pound "toddler" every day...(Thank goodness for public school)Uh, this is actually making me feel worse...Anyway, loved your essay and perspective!

  5. I wish I had found your blog when my daughter was first diagnosed with hearing loss. Asking why is very natural in the beginning, but you must move on from that pretty quickly and get to work!

    I'm listing your blog as one of my "One Lovely Blog" recipients. Thanks for giving support to all of us parents of HOH kids!

  6. This is great. I totally agree! I will admit, I have definitely had moments of self pity but that is time wasted. In face, there have been other moments where i have felt very specifically that the reason it WAS me was to help others going through similar things because I have been there before! This really is wonderful!