Last night, my seven-year-old son Edgar ardently declared his love for me and dreamily whispered as he grasped his pillow and drifted off to sleep, “Mom and I can never be separated.”
A tall order . . . but one that grazes my heart nonetheless–not because I have a need for this level of extreme adoration but because I earnestly worry what life will look like for my son when eventually we are separated.
I understand my charge as a parent–to love my children, of course, but as important to arm them with the tools they will need to become successful, independent adults. It’s simple, really. But when your child has a condition (or two) that impacts his life, his functioning, you worry–you worry how anyone will ever be able to care for your child with the same dedication, the same attention to detail. And that worry can easily turn to unrealistic expectations.
Parents often think about what their children’s future partners might be like–their future sons- and daughters-in-law. But when your son has epilepsy or ADHD, that imagining goes to a whole other place: Will Edgar’s seizures scare others away? Will this person make sure he takes his medicine if Edgar can’t or won’t? Will he or she ever be able to love him the way I love him? And then . . . what if Edgar chooses to live his life without a partner? Or, worse, what if he wants one and there isn’t one?
When my son whispers that he and I can never be separated, he is echoing what I at times feel in my own heart, in my soul–because I know as long as he is with me, he is safe; he is loved; he has someone he knows will always and forever be in his corner and on his side.
But my head knows better and understands eventually I have to let him go–not today, but eventually. And I’ll have to explain to him that it will be okay, that it will be mutual and that he’ll be ready. We have work to do–and all that work is so that we can eventually separate, so that one night as he drifts off to sleep he can utter, “I am ready.”