It happened again recently while we were telling Jackson's story – a well meaning stranger said what has been said so many times before.
"I have no idea what I would do if I were in your shoes."
He had shared that he was the father of two young kids himself and that he just 'didn't know' what he would do if he was faced with our situation. Normally, I sheepishly smile and thank the well-meaning stranger for their compliment because, in some ways, that's what it is – a strange way of complimenting our parenting strength. But, instead, I decided to respond how I knew I should.
"You'd do what you had to. Because they're your children and you love them."
At the end of the day, we're not superheroes. We're simply parents taking care of our child, the same way you would. With a lot of strength, a little grace, and buckets of wine.
'You're so strong. I could never do what you do'.
You could. And you would.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they 'could never' do what Zach and I are doing right now when it comes to Jackson, I would have enough to pay for one set NIRS for, like, half a day. It's meant to be a statement of support, of wonder, of encouragement. But it's a lie.
We didn't sign up for this. Zach and I didn't sit down when I got pregnant and decide we wanted to have a child with a heart condition or that needed breathing support or that we couldn't bring home for months after birth.
But, that's what happened.
And so we deal with it. We laugh. We cry. We learn all we can. We do what we do not because we're stronger than anyone else or because we're more equipped or because we want to. We do what we do because we have to. Because that's what you do for your children, your family, or your friends.
I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to using this phrase. I still find myself saying it, wondering how parents of children who have it worse than we do do it everyday.
'You're so strong', I say. 'I could never do what you do.'
Then I remember. I could, I would, and I do.
This post was originally published on she-competes.com.