Tomorrow morning, my birth son, Chip, will graduate with honors from high school. Pride will be foremost in my heart, but I must admit that for many, many years, guilt and worry were the emotions that occupied me.
Chip has three adopted siblings, and they all have significant special needs. Throw into that mix the fact that I am a single parent, and you can probably imagine the thoughts that were ever present in my mind.
Would Chip resent the fact that so much of my time was spent caring for his siblings?
Would he harbor the anger of missing a Little League game because his sister was in the hospital?
Would the embarassement caused by his siblings’ behavior finally be too much for him to handle?
Would he always wonder why I spent so much time and money fighting for his sister’s educational rights?
Would he get tired of the endless conversations with doctors, attorneys, advocates, and anyone else who would listen to the issues his siblings faced.
Would he feel like his upbringing played second fiddle to that of his siblings?
I’m sure I will always wonder about those things, but I must admit, it now seems like having such siblings has made him a stronger, more mature, more compassionate and committed young man.
Chip was accepted into every college to which he applied. He chose the one closest to home. He has a summer job at that college working in the biomedical engineering lab to develop a vibro-tactile device to teach geometry to students who are blind.
Chip has written thank you notes to every person who has given him a graduation gift or a scholarship for college. He went shopping yesterday for a new suit and other ‘grown up clothes’.
Chip has a financial plan in place so he can start his post-college life with no debt. He knows how to cook, clean, do laundry, and which piece of silverware to use at a fancy dinner. He is concerned about his carbon footprint.
Chip helps our elderly neighbors with yard work and other household jobs they may need done. He likes to buy me and his siblings dinner occasionally, and he offers to stay home with his siblings (no small task) so I can go out with friends.
In short, despite all my worries and guilt, Chip has turned out to be a fine man.
I won’t tell you not to worry if you have children both with and without disabilities. But I will tell you that the things I once viewed as negatives were really positives. I am now officially kicking guilt and worry to the curb!