Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Water Lily

Wife, friend, daughter, sister…Identities are made up of so many experiences, relationships and histories. Our present-day selves informed by past incarnations. Each layer building on the last, like the ruins of a city unearthed in an archeological dig.

Yet, some changes to our identity are so dramatic that metaphors like this are no longer adequate.

Mom…Becoming one is such a cataclysmic shift that life is divided into a “before" me and an “after" me. A more apt metaphor for birth is an earthquake that changes the shape and look of the landscape.

Everything is still there, but different.

When I write about being a friend, a wife or a daughter now, I filter my thoughts through the lens of being a mom. Or I write about how these different identities inform who I am as a mother.

The daughter, the sister, the neighbor, the parts that exist outside of me as a mom have not gone away. Sometimes, it takes someone else to remind you of the “before” you.

Special Needs Teacher...My years in the classroom definitely have an impact on the kind of mother who I am, but in subtle ways that are less accessible from day to day. You probably don't even know about this identity. I haven’t written about this past on my blog.

But Kristi of Finding Ninee wrote a post called I Don't Know Who I'm Crying For that touched me so deeply that I had to respond.

She wrote about Kelly, a mom who tried to kill herself and her 14-year-old daughter, Issy, who has autism. Kristi’s reaction was filtered through her own experience as a mom to her son, Tucker, who has special needs. I venture to guess that such a brave and honest post could have only been written by a mom, and a mom as amazing as Kristi. I doubt that the "before" Kristi could have written it with such raw candor and vulnerability. Here are some of her words:

…I don’t know who I’m crying for. Am I crying for Kelli? For Issy? For Tucker? For me?

Yes, I guess. But I’m not sure.

I am sad. I am mad. I’m mad at Kelli. I’m mad at the situation. I’m mad and scared and hurt and worried that, in some cases, special needs people are SOMETIMES violent. I think that the fact that special needs can include violence is the hardest thing of all for me.

I keep erasing my words. I have to ask myself what bothers me so much about this.

What I’ve come up with is that I don’t want you to think that Tucker is like Issy.

I don’t want Tucker to be like Issy...

Kristi goes on to wonder how violence fits in our world. I am grateful that she has agreed to publish my response to her query. I'm grateful for Kristi's many identities -- my friend, mom to Tucker, writer, passionate crusader for children with special needs, compassionate carer of us all.

I'm honored to have my post on her blog. It's called The Water Lily, if you would care to take a look.


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Photo Source: Flickr, Donna Sutton


  1. Rachel. This is an amazing post. I got teary and chills at "Sometimes, it takes someone else to remind you of the “before” you."
    Stunning and beautiful. Thank you so much for your most excellent kind words and for your support and help. I feel so lucky to know you and to have the honor of calling you a friend. I really appreciate your words and your wisdom and your everything.

  2. Just read The Water lily. Very moving. With a son that attended'special' school, this resonates with Me.

  3. Read it and loved it. Seriously Rachel, you put it so eloquently and perfectly in this article. I thank you for sharing your thoughts and for Kristi for allowing you the place to do this!!

    1. I'm so grateful for Our Land, too! Thank you for your kind words, Janine!

  4. It was a beautiful read Rachel. You are one of the most eloquent writers I know. You and Kristi are too amazing bloggers and I am grateful for both of your thoughts.

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

    1. Aw, you made my day, Lanaya! Thank you for your kind words.

  5. This is such an amazing post, I absolutely love it! :) Thank you for sharing.

  6. So beautiful... you, Kristi, your writing... I'm so glad to call you my friends. Someday maybe we'll get to meet for drinks in real life.

    1. We will. I really feel sure of that. I don't know why, but I am sure, Sarah!

  7. I have a grown son with special needs who now works with special needs adults. These thoughts and feelings and doubts and fears NEVER go away. Thank you, Rachel and Kristi. Your knowledge and understanding and sympathy are something for me to cling to!

    1. Your comment has warmed my heart, Diane. So glad to connect with you. Truly.

  8. Great blog post! You have a gift for writing!


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