Love Conquers A Cliche

I have said this line myself (before the birth of my first child) and I heard it said again recently by a distant family relative… ‘So long as the baby is healthy…’

It jars me a little to hear it said now.

The ‘so long as they’re healthy’ line usually follows the ‘are you going to find out if it’s a boy or a girl’ conversation. It’s a bit of cliché that people say I guess ‘…it doesn’t really matter if it’s a boy or a girl…so long as they are healthy.’

It just doesn’t sit quite right with me anymore.

It is definitely not the worst thing in the world to want health for your child! It is kind of others to wish that for your child. So long as that child is loved, cared for, supported, included and accepted if they are not healthy. Not only by the parents but by the entire family, the community and society at large.

Because… what if your child is sick, pre-mature, has a medical condition, has a disability, or suffers complications during birth. What if the baby ‘appears’ healthy at birth then develops a seizure disorder, eating disorder, anxiety disorder, any mental health disorder, or some other rare condition that nobody seems to have heard of and that only happens to 1 in 100, 000 children but that 1 is your one. What about global developmental delay, intellectual disability, bowel problems, heart disease, asthma, deafness, vision impairment, cancer.

When we hope for a healthy child do we also include in that list the desire to wish away from our adult children chronic back pain, morbid obesity, addiction to drugs and alcohol, STD’s, AIDS, bi-polar, dementia, engagement in criminal activity…

You get my drift…

Not many of us have or live completely healthy lives from start to finish…completely free from all ailments and afflictions. Infact “ health” seems to be the biggest spectrum of all, one that we all sit somewhere along.

Maybe we would be better off saying to our pregnant loved ones what I say to myself given that my beloved first born son has autism and that I am now pregnant with my second. ‘Now that I am having another child …it doesn’t ultimately matter what the issues are…because I love this child…I will do my very best to care for my child whatever his or her struggles (health or otherwise) may be… it will not be a disappointment if my child does not turn out how others might have envisioned… because I will love this child…my child…no matter what.’

Just the way I love my son. With my whole heart.

jan 2013 iphone 225

Kiddo in yellow fishing with friends

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25 thoughts on “Love Conquers A Cliche

  1. Ahhh the dreaded cliches – I have a problem with many, and this is one I also dislike. You have such an intuitive way of writing that relays your thoughts so well, and make us think.

  2. OK I’m be the curmudgeon!

    I get your drift however I think longing for a healthy baby is the expression of hope I feel for the future of of my grand child.

    As a granddad I know life long health is an impossible dream! I haven’t had it so why would anyone else!

    However I do long for the best in every way for my grandies.

    And I guess people are expressing love & kindness as well as hope for a bright tomorrow whatever it brings when they wish for us to have a “healthy grandbaby’.

    I wonder if your alternative response is rather long – any ideas on a concise version?

    PS BTW love your blog & the fact you are blogging Karen

  3. OK I’ll be the curmudgeon!

    I get your drift however I think longing for a healthy baby is the expression of hope I feel for the future of of my grand child.

    As a granddad I know life long health is an impossible dream! I haven’t had it so why would anyone else!

    However I do long for the best in every way for my grandies.

    And I guess people are expressing love & kindness as well as hope for a bright tomorrow whatever it brings when they wish for us to have a “healthy grandbaby’.

    I wonder if your alternative response is rather long – any ideas on a concise version?

    PS BTW love your blog & the fact you are blogging Karen

  4. You’re really missing the point of this cliche, and going well out of your way to find things to be annoyed about, if you ask me. I have a friend who has an autistic child, and other friends who have children with heart conditions. I have seen their and their children’s struggles. Pregnant with my second, when someone asks if I want a boy or a girl, never has this cliche ‘I just want them to be healthy’ meant more. Yes, I would love them no matter what, it goes without saying, but what parent would choose these other conditions for their kids. You just want them to be ok. Gender be damned.

    I think this post is actually coming from a place of resentment, as the cliche is a reminder that your child isn’t healthy, more than anything. But as you said, they are loved. Best of luck to you on your journey and to both of us with our next pregnancy. And yes, I do wish for you a healthy child. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person.

    • yep- there’s nothing quite like an anonymous comment from someone who “knows someone with….” criticising the blog author and accusing them of being resentful and missing the point. Can I just say that unless you have lived the journey of parenting a child with a disability, you quite likely aren’t qualified to comment as you have done. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but expressing it respectfully is usually considered in better taste than expressing it with accusations. It is ridiculous to think that any of us would choose for our children to have such struggles, but after 17 years of parenting children with high support needs, I can honestly say that “health” matters a lot less than you seem to think! I don’t think your comments make you a bad person, just one who doesn’t understand the reasoning behind this article. Good luck with your pregnancy.

  5. Hi John, I just got feedback from Hubby and felt to clarify a little bit…so have amended the post a little. I guess I appreciate the kind wishes, but I also want to re-define what is considered to be ‘the best’ for a child…and I would say love is the highest goal. Plus I do not want ‘unhealthy’ children or their parents to feel less than blessed.

    • Yep good points.

      I’ll think twice before using this phrase again – maybe just being thrilled & happy for the expectant parents is enough.

      Thanks for replying.

      PS take it from me – ignore the comments of the anon crew.

  6. Cliches are generally thoughtless words – instead of addressing the deeper issues it covers them by a catchphrase. And undoubtedly will always hurt someone. Which is why I don’t like them. Ignore the comments of “hmmmm” – if they aren’t brave enough to put a name to a comment then their comment can be given little value.

  7. I like what you wrote, Karen. And as an adult with autism, what you say resonates with me because there are many times when I have felt like maybe I was too hard of a child for my mother to raise or not what she had wanted or that she wished I were a different child from the one I was.

    And I remember her saying that when she was pregnant with my little sister — “I don’t care, so long as it is healthy.” My sister was healthy; I was not. And it’s hard to feel like your life is someone else’s regret . . . I know my mother loves me and would not want me to feel that way, but it can be hard not to feel that way with the things people say and with my difficult childhood that she and I had together.

    So, yeah. I love your blog post. You have an attitude that will hopefully serve to help your child feel more secure in your love.

    • Thanks to all of you for your comments… They got me thinking… And I think I will write a follow up post once the dust settles. A particular thanks to ‘Unstrange Mind’ for your thoughts – they were very moving and made me a bit teary actually. Again- to all of you- thanks for the feedback.

  8. I agree with the author that it is more important for us to wish that a child is born loved than healthy. I agree also with the author that healthy is a very relative adjective given we are all on a spectrum of health somewhere. I don’t share the authors passion for this point but I think she definitely makes a good point. I also think ones health is a tremendous blessing and to be wished for all. I especially do not necessarily see ‘non-typically developing’ to be equated with ‘unhealthy’. As a parent of an autistic child it has stuck in my throat a little when people have made the comment ‘I am so thankful to be blessed with three healthy (typically developing) children’. I, as a parent of a child with autism (non-typically developing) child, feel equally as blessed by my young son, yet feel the statement made by them makes a judgement that delineates one as blessed, and the other as maybe a little bit lesser. Health nor developmental ability do not determine a child’s value. I think a child is so so precious, regardless of whether they are born healthy or not, or typically developing or not, that health and developmental ability kind of pail by comparison. Interesting blog.

  9. I’m not sure wishing for an ideal scenario is a bad thing? Perhaps the comment is made flippantly sometimes …so perhaps cliche but i do think expectant parents are ever hopeful even though the reality is none of us will end up with an entirely clean bill of health whether the cheques start getting written from birth or much later. I don’t see health and love on a tipping scale. Hoping for health is not to say love less when health is not what we hoped We tacked health issues with both our kids in utero and then immediately after birth….but it wouldn’t stop me hoping for a healthier start next time round if there was to be. Perhaps folks should just stop asking the infernal sex of baby question and we’d avoid the need to throw a trusty cliche or three around! Love your blog. Gets the ol brain going 🙂

  10. We live by cliches and well meaning people use them a lot. Sometimes I wonder if it is because we don’t know how to respond to someone, instead of taking a minute to think or even better listen. Being a parent is hard work, taking on the challenge of raising children is not for the faint hearted. It isn’t as simple as having a healthy child. I feel sometimes saying as long as they are healthy can downplay the effect of children who are struggling in other ways. I have also been struck by the amount of cliches I hear when hard times hit good people. I think we are afraid to say nothing or little. We don’t always have to know or be the answer, we can just be. A blog post for another time for me.

    • thats true Kerry-parenting is not for the faint hearted! also finding the ‘right’words for when people go through difficulties can be tricky…I’ll keep an eye out for your blog post 🙂 PS- loving your new FB page by the way

  11. Karen stop being modest . You have loved and love b with your whole heart, and all of your actions and words and deeds and time and MIND.

    You are one of the best examples of love in word and deed I have ever known

  12. I have had relatively normal kids but I am with you Karen – this phrase always annoyed me when I was pregnant as well. Even ” I hope it will be healthy” would have been better. The “as long as…” seems to imply there is an expectation on the mother to produce a healthy child.
    Having said that, although I haven’t met your son, he seems to be the epitome of health – its just his mind works differently to most. This is the thing with children – every child takes us in a different direction. They present new challenges, new things to learn, give us many different joys and show us so much about ourselves and about love, So I mostly say something like this: “I am so glad you are expecting. Every pregnancy is the start of a most wonderful journey and I am so excited for you.” And I am excited for you and Seth, Karen – you both obviously know how to travel well.

    • Love that response Gaye! Hit the nail on the head (just to use a cliche!). I was thinking ‘it doesn’t matter if you have a girl or boy- I am just glad you are expecting’ but i think adding in ‘and I hope its a great adventure/wonderful journey’ is a great thought. I would certainly prefer this over the ‘so long as its healthy’ line.

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