Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Tribute to Parents who Raise Children who Don't Fit In.

In raising a child who doesn't fit in, I understand -- for the first time -- how easily I have fit in my whole life. I thought that I had challenges. I thought that I was different. I wasn't. I showed up on this earth, in this society, more or less as people wanted me. Have I struggled to live authentically in this world, to love myself even though the world was a harsh place? I thought I struggled. Sometimes, hell, I even thought I had it tough. The Catholic in me quickly reminded myself that I didn't have it tough. There are always those worse off. But, still, I harbored my petty injustices against the self -- because it felt good.

I was wrong. I didn't know anything... I'm trying to learn. And right now I only want to write this tribute -- to parents who are raising children who don't fit in and here it is:

You know the beauty of it, the heartbreak. You love your child -- just the way your child is -- and yet, little by little, the world asks us to hand our children over, the ones who fit and the ones who don't.

Some of the people out there don't deserve this child. They see someone foreign and this disturbs them. Others get it. They see variation. They see inner beauty. And, that quickly, the world divides in a way you never thought it would -- those who can love difference and those who can't. Those who will stand up for your child and those who will push your child down.

Meanwhile, you teach the child to love the person they are, and the child is teaching you -- by example, daily -- what it means to live with authenticity in an inauthentic world. And the child teaches you that you have to accept both people on either side of the new divide -- those who will stand up for your child and those who will push your child down. A hard lesson. You have to try to meet everyone wherever they are on their path.

And, because you love your child, you turn into educators, advocates, champions -- overnight, it seems. One day, you were living your life and now you're fighting. The world needs teachers, advocates, champions -- all of you. The world needs more parents who are willing to fight.

And your love is an example of the best kind of love -- fierce, unconditional -- and, for those who can really see it, it shines, it lights up dark corners of society -- intolerance and hate and fear and shame. We all can learn to live a little more authentically. We all can learn to love more fiercely.

I've been looking to you. I've been drawing strength from your commitment. Sometimes I know you've got to be weary, scared, overwhelmed. But, my God, even then the light of your love -- when you talk about that child you hold so close -- is brilliant. My eyes burn, my heart aches.

This is my way of saying thank you. I'm here. I'm one of you. I'm trying to learn everything you have to teach.