Monday, January 30, 2012

worth it.

i can’t pinpoint a day, a time, or a moment when it happened and i don’t remember that first instance where its sound echoed through my head and panged my heart. what i do know is that in those early days and weeks after gabriella was born i was pushed out, head first into a new reality and something deep within me was changing. a different kind of hearing aid had been placed in my ears and all of a sudden this one word, a word that i had heard and used many times prior, came at me like a thousand little daggers.

as those first weeks grew into months the feelings just came. I couldn’t control them.

i had many people around me say things like--

don’t get too sensitive.
people don’t mean anything by it.
they aren’t talking about your baby.   

but there i was, looking into her precious little face as people flippantly used this word all around me and when i was finally alone i just couldn’t stop the tears. the pain that would swell up inside of my heart. i would try to brush it off, try and ignore it, but i couldn’t. every time i heard it, it was a deep and painful reminder of what little respect our society had for this new, sweet, innocent baby girl of mine. how very little they thought of her.

after having two baby girls, i was now a mom to a baby girl that needed an advocate-
someone to fight for her.

what word could be so hurtful?


what are you trying to say when the words, “ugh, i feel retarded today!” get typed out onto your facebook status?

that you aren’t working right?
that something is off with you?
that your brain isn’t functioning at its highest level?
that you look funny?

i am a product of the eighties, well... and nineties too. when i was growing up everything seemed to be retarded. your hair looked retarded. the coke machine that ate your quarters was retarded. when your mom wouldn’t let you go with your friends to the mall she was retarded. when your trapper keeper rings would get all misaligned and screw up your papers it was retarded. every time something looked funny or didn’t work quite the way that it should it was... retarded.

i said it and i was completely unaware of how it could cut so deep. it was so ingrained into my vocabulary that even in those first few weeks after gabriella was born I would catch myself.  i would try to change the word midsound- something like, “that is rrrreeeee... diculous!” but i didn’t always catch myself and even coming out of my own mouth it was hurtful, actually it was more than hurtful, it was crushing.    
it is highly likely that one day gabriella will come home and cry because of that word and what will i say to her? i want to be able to say that i said something. i want to be able to tell her that i am fighting for her, because-
when i look at gabriella
when i hold her close to me
when i celebrate with her
when i pick her up when she falls down
when i see her shy smile spread across her face
when i watch her dance

i know she is worth it.
i’m not interested in being the police,
but i am interested in making you aware. 

because i was never aware before i had gabriella in my life. 

so the next time that word comes out of your mouth i hope you stop and think of me and think of my little gabriella.


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Contributed by Brenda at The Bartolone Family