I pulled weeds today. It’s one of my least favorite things in the world to do, but the weather was beautiful and dry, and excuses were hard to find, so Erin and I headed out to the front yard. One especially long one had been growing out of a planter all summer. Every time I came in or out of the front door, I growled at it and swore I’d get it next time. Today was “next time.” He put up a good fight, held on with roots seemingly made of super glue, but, in the end, he was no match for my superior brains and brawn. I’m proud to say that that weed is no more!
Naturally, I expected everybody who came through that door to notice my victory over that stupid weed. At least four people have come in that door since that time, a couple of them multiple times, and, believe it or not, no one has noticed the absence of that weed. How could they possibly miss it? Don’t they know how hard I worked to rid the front porch of that eyesore? Weren’t they at least a little impressed at the carefully chosen strategies I used to uproot it? Didn’t they see how much better everything looked without that weed? Apparently not. It’s been 7 hours and 24 minutes since it’s death and not a peep from anyone. Sigh…
So, I got to thinking about this. People don’t often notice what is NOT there. Just like nobody noticed the absence of that ugly weed, nobody notices some things with our children that are not there. They are quick to notice and judge our differences, the list we all know too well. Unfortunately, though, they don’t notice the meltdown that she didn’t have because your quick thinking and fast talking diffused things before it got to that point. They don’t notice the three pounds that he didn’t put on over the weekend because you had food security in place and had nutritious food ready, eliminating the need for less beneficial food choices. They don’t notice the two inches that were not on her waist because you got her to the gym, day after day, to exercise. They don’t notice the decrease in nasality of his speech because you hauled him to speech therapy, yet again, when you could have been relaxing in front of the TV. They don’t notice any of those things that aren’t there, things that you worked hard on, things that improved the quality of your child’s life.
People are quick to notice what our children do, but not so much what they don’t. For us as PWS parents, what they don’t do matters as much as what they do.
So, nobody noticed that my weed was gone. Fine. Fine, because it’s enough that I feel better, even if nobody ever knows that weed was ever there or how hard I worked to get rid of it. Even if nobody ever notices the things that our children don’t do, that’s fine, because we know, and, at some level, our children know, that their day went better and their lives are better because of what did not happen. It took real blood, sweat and tears to make those things not happen, but it was worth every bit of energy that it called for and when we see the results, we know it’s true.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “It’s perfectly fine to pat yourself on the back, because nobody else knows better than you what a good job you have done.” For families like us who have so much to deal with day in and day out, we should shamelessly pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves not just for the things that people can see and appreciate in our children, but for the things that they don’t see.
Tomorrow, when I come up on the front porch, my neighbors may wonder what I’m so proud of that would cause me to stand there, patting myself on the back. I think I’ll just let them wonder!