Notes From a Dragon Mom

After reading this New York Times piece by Emily Rapp, “Notes from a Dragon Mom,” I’d like to take a step back and just take a moment to be completely and absolutely thankful for my wonderful kids.

Kapp’s 18-month-old son Ronan was born with Tay-Sachs, a rare genetic disorder, and will likely die before his third birthday, slowly returning to a vegetative state before he dies.

“How do you parent without a net,” she writes, “without a future, knowing that you will lose your child, bit by torturous bit?”

If that’s not heart-wrenching and unimaginable, I don’t know what is.  Kapp lives with a parent’s worst fear–losing a child–every single day.

It took me an entire day to work up the courage to read this piece, and I’m so glad I did.  Because her op-ed piece shines with so much love, clarity and humanity when she writes about the lessons she’s learned along the way:

“Our experiences have taught us how to parent for the here and now, for the sake of parenting, for the humanity implicit in the act itself, though this runs counter to traditional wisdom and advice.”


“The only task here is to love.”

The only task is to love.

Why do we lose sight of this so often?  Why do we get so embroiled in all the ways our kids and spouse (much less coworkers or friends) drive us crazy that it becomes nearly impossible for us to stay in the here and now, truly appreciating what we have?  

Why is it so easy to take our loved ones for granted?

If we knew we only had a set amount of time left with our child or spouse or friend, would we really act the way we do now?  Would we really get caught up in the drama or dismay and withhold the unconditional love or maybe even respect or support they so desire?

When you apply Rapp’s awful, hard-earned lessons to the rest of us, I can’t help but think that most of us are living our lives out of whack, with our most vital needs stuffed into the back seat while all that pesky, irrelevant stuff rides next to us, shotgun.  In particular, I am haunted by her assessment of most traditional parenting: “The certainties that most parents face are irrelevant to us, and frankly, kind of silly.”

How much, really, does it matter that the house is messy, that the kids have already broken into that Halloween candy, that your spouse’s dirty socks are all over the floor.

I’m so glad Emily Rapp shared her awful and heartbreaking story with us because it’s so central to what I believe and who I hope to become: a person who’s able to let go of all that other silly stuff so that I can get to what really matters: “loving my child today.”

And loving my spouse today.  Then letting that love form the basis of my every word and action.

Every day, it seems to me, we have a choice about how we want to act and who we want to be.  Today, I’m going to try to follow Rapp’s lead.  

The only task is to love.



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One Response to Notes From a Dragon Mom

  1. Tanja Pajevic October 19, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Just wanted to add a link to another moving assessment of how the Rapp piece affected yet another mother–in this case, Julie Poppen, my sister-in-law. A powerful piece from EdNews Colorado:

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