Many years ago a co-worker, observing all that I had to do for my so-called special needs children, commented that I lived “a life of obligation.” Her insinuation was that I didn’t have as much freedom as parents of so-called typically developing children, and that this was to be pitied. (I pitied her more.) I thought of her last night as I was reading Willa Cather’s “O Pioneers!”, wherein a footloose character views his lack of obligation with melancholy: “Freedom so often means that one isn’t needed anywhere.” Very few people live without obligation, and I’m guessing they know what they’re missing: the deep sense of reward and fulfillment that can come with meeting one’s obligations.A reader commented: “My son has PDD-NOS and has just started kindergarten. While he is very bright, he is struggling socially, as his environment is new and he is not understanding the social cues he receives from his peers. Because he is mainstreamed, the ‘work’ in parenting will actually increase as we help him to adjust and learn. But if I could go back and ‘fix’ his genes so that he wouldn’t be on the spectrum, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t change one hair on my son’s head, because he is a sweet, caring, kind, beautiful little boy. There are days I look at him and think to myself that I don’t deserve a child as wonderful as he is. His situation has allowed me to understand what kind of a commitment being a father truly is and I feel has made me a better parent and person because of it. I welcome and cherish my ‘obligation’ and lack of ‘freedom’ every single day.”
To which I replied: Can anyone say this better???
(from my Facebook archive, 2012)