I hear from a lot of parents and readers who talk about how we've become an inspiration for them in some way, and I am always touched by that, even when I don't feel like I deserve it. Well, the parents in the article, Michelle and Jim Foard, have become heroes to me. They are fierce advocates for their son, and they're not ones to sugarcoat the challenges he faces. When something's hard, they say it's hard.
You know how I feel about the "glass half full", "he's my special little guy", "handicapable!" Holland crowd. If that sort of sunny-side approach is what they need, then I certainly think they need to embrace what works for them. But I don't have much use for it, and I certainly don't think broken kids need it, either.
Michelle and Jim understand something that I think most people don't get, and that includes a lot of parents, even some with special needs kids. They understand that their son has limitations that have to be respected, but they also seem to understand that within those limits, their greatest gift to their son is the expectation that he will one day be able to fit into the world.
The title of the article comes from something Michelle said, in the last paragraph:
Michelle and Jim have risen to the profound occasion of raising their son. "We want to give Jimmy every possible chance to excel," says Jim. "We love him. He's perfect. But he's going to have some very serious issues we're going to have to deal with for the rest of his life." It's a future they've learned to make peace with. "It's life now," explains Jim. "It's part of everything we do." Michelle searches for another way to explain what it's like to be Jimmy's parents. Ultimately, you learn to embrace "a different kind of perfect," she says, and "a different kind of normal."
When I first read the article, I wrote to the author, Charlotte Meryman, to tell her how much I enjoyed it. We exchanged a few emails and had a pleasant conversation, and while I don't remember telling her about my site, I either must have said something or she found it on her own and shared it, because last week, I received an email from none other than Michelle Foard herself.
She expressed some of the same things I've felt, about how "usettling" it is to have all this personal information out there in the world about her family and how hard it is to receive unpleasant emails from strangers. Until now, she was unfamiliar with the whole blogging world, so all of the faceless, anonymous bile of the internet is new for her.
I hope she won't mind if I quote her email, but she said something that made me proud, both of what I'd written and of what you people said in response, and I thought you ought to read it:
So after reading a barrage of angry emails and stupid remarks, it was nice to see that someone out there really got the gist of what the article was about and could relate to our situation. So thank you and your other "bloggers?" for reaffirming that going public and being completely honest wasn't a crazy stupid mistake.
So there you go. Good stuff happens here sometimes.