Saturday, September 11, 2010

On balance

Some weeks ago, when I learned that I’d been assigned to write for Hopeful Parents on the eleventh day of every month, it occurred to me that I would be posting on the eleventh of September.  September 11.  I wondered how I would write an upbeat, positive post on such a tragic anniversary.  To acknowledge the date would be somber; to ignore it, when I have been specifically designated THIS day to post, might seem disrespectful.

About a week ago, on a day when the stress of Bud’s transition to a new school year manifested in hard-to-manage behavior at home, it occurred to me that my posting date was fast approaching.  I wondered how I would write an upbeat, positive post for Hopeful Parents when I was not feeling like a very hopeful parent.  To acknowledge my frustration and self-doubt would be somber; to ignore it would be disrespectful to the mission of this site.

And that led me back to thinking about 9/11.

On that day, when the first plane hit the tower, Bud and I were dancing.  We were in a Kindermusik class full of parents and toddlers.  We were surrounded by baby laughs and mommy hugs, while hundreds of miles away, inconceivable tragedy was unfolding.

I think about those contrasting images often.

They are images that, through their contrast, capture my world view.  It’s a world view that may have started to develop in my high school science class, because it seems to have its roots in Newtonian physics:  To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In my own mind, it has become this:  The universe seeks balance.

It’s a theme that plays out consistently in my life.

I look at pictures from Bud’s second birthday party, held four days after September 11, 2001.  The faces on the adults are ashen, fixed in still-fresh shock and disbelief.  And yet, there we were, gathered with joy, gathered in love, gathered because a two-year-old’s birthday mattered, despite the horror we were all still trying to process.  We gathered to meet our grief with an equal and opposite reaction.

I think about Bud’s birth itself – the birth in which his twin brother was stillborn.  I think about the hours and days that followed – hours and days of profound sadness, made livable - made powerfully joyful - by the healthy baby boy I held in my arms.  Equal and opposite.

I think it’s the way that each of us processes the balance – the way we frame the moments and events in our lives that stand together in juxtaposition – that really defines our experience.  I could, I suppose, reflect on my life and feel cheated - angry that the sorrow of x diminished the joy of y.  Instead, I reflect on my life and feel fortunate - grateful that the joy of y sustained me through the sorrow of x.

So, I cling to my memories of the earliest moments of 9/11 - those moments in which something was stolen from us that we’ll never reclaim - and I remember the dancing.  I remember the joy – and I believe that the people who were dancing, who were laughing, who were kissing, who were living with compassion and kindness at that first terrible moment of impact, created an equal and opposite force that kept us all moving forward, that allowed us to preserve something that can never be stolen.

It’s the same world view that keeps me moving forward through Bud’s darkest days of anxiety and aggression – because as challenging as his behavior can be, as powerless as I can feel in the face of it, I know without question that soon we will experience equal and opposite progress – equal and opposite joy.

The universe seeks balance.  Better days are coming.  And there’s nothing more hopeful than that.


MOM-NOS has been working on balance since 2005 at Mom - Not Otherwise Specified.


  1. What a beautiful article. I will be looking forward to the next one :)

  2. This is a perfect post for this day -- bravo! I remember dancing with my four-month old baby a few days after 9/11 -- in a mommy and me yoga class. We held our babies close and swayed and danced to that cliche song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" -- but it didn't seem a cliche then!

  3. just...beautiful. a perfect post for this day.

  4. So true. Great post.

  5. As said before, but so fitting - beautiful post.

  6. Wonderful post! I'm constantly thinking about balance, and how to remain hopeful in times of relative imbalance. I don't seem to be able to store the joy...which I definitely experience and acknowledge and treasure...for times of struggle. Your post is helpful, so thank you!

  7. Lovely post -- resonates very much with how my family experiences 9/11 too -- for the past two years, 9/11 has been the anniversary of our daughter's last observed seizure. Thank you for articulating the tension and the balance.

  8. So beautiful and fitting. It is an amazing feat to give justice to the day in such a hopeful way.

  9. said before, but the word that came to me when I read your thoughtful post was....beautiful.

  10. This really touched me, in ways that have nothing to do with disability or parenting. Thanks. :)

  11. I am feeling much more rested after reading your words.
    And, as ever, hopeful.

  12. I think you are right about the Universe seeking balance. Beautiful post.