My daughter’s contribution to society

15 Jun

Every so often, something will pop up on the internet about the disabled being a burden to society, and it’s a bit like “Oh is it that time already?” The usual feelings wash through – anger, showing the internet article one or both of my middle fingers, general annoyance, and that slight tinge of guilt of “Well…my daughter is sort of a burden.”

Except she’s not. No more than anyone else really.

Yet it happens all the time.  Something will come up and I’m reminded how my child is a burden to our family, to the education system, to society.  She has been put squarely in the category of “Will not contribute to society.” She’s not a good investment, she won’t find the cure for cancer, we’ll be supporting her for the rest of her life. She is a leech that has nothing to give back to those around her.

And all that is total bullshit.

When I was a child, I got a book that became a favorite – “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes“.  I loved it enough that when I spotted it at the store, I bought it for my children. It is a tale of a little girl bunny who wanted to grow up to be an Easter Bunny (as there were several of them who made Easter deliveries.)  She was told that she couldn’t possibly ever be an Easter Bunny because she wasn’t the right type of rabbit, and she was a girl, who then became a mother of 21 little bunnies. (Spoiler alert – she becomes a great Easter Bunny.)

I was always enchanted by how she found tasks for all 21 of her little fuzzy off-spring.  She paired them up, two by two, to perform tasks that would help out the entire family.  So two cooked, two dusted, two made all the beds.  Two painted pictures, two made music, two danced – because the arts are important.  And one…one pulled out the mama bunny’s chair every night.

Every bunny had something they could do that contributed to the family’s well-being, even if all they did was pull out a chair for their mother, so she could sit down after a long day.  No task was deemed “more important” than another. Everyone contributed their talents, and all contributions were appreciated.

In our household society, we all contribute different things.  Maura’s contributions are usually the least helpful in one way, but in other ways, they’re priceless.  She brings out the best in her siblings and her parents.  She brings out the best in so many people.  She brings joy and laughter to our lives, as well as reminders to enjoy the simpler things in life.  Most of all, she gives love unconditionally.  As I remind her siblings, no one will love you the way Maura loves you.

If you tally up facts and numbers and all sorts of tangible things, no, Maura doesn’t contribute much to society.  Eventually, we might even get state aide for her and then she can be a total drain on your tax dollars!

But if you look at the love she gives, the smiles she causes, the experiences she causes – then her contribution to life is huge.

Let’s not fool ourselves – anyone can become disabled or have a disabled child.  ANY ONE.  Wouldn’t it be better to treat those with disabilities as worthy humans rather than calling them burdens?  Because the next “burden to society” may be you or your loved one.  My child is a worthy human being. You are too. Let’s just go with that.







14 Responses to “My daughter’s contribution to society”

  1. franhunne4u June 15, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    Every elderly person who needs help is “a burden” according to that definition. Everybody is – because it is not only that we all contribute to society (yes, indeed, Maura does, too) – but we also all need something from society. Some more, some less.

  2. Angel Weiss June 15, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    Phoebe, you and your family are an amazing contribution to society. Love you!

  3. Lee roblin June 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    Love this!!! I’ve often had those thoughts and fears. Besides playing his vintage nintendo, my son rolls silverware every night for a restaurant close by. They have loved him for 9 years now. There are times I think I feel frustrated that’s all he does when I hear about other friends kids going to med school or having their first child. But then I know just as many friends who are still “raising” their normal adult kids. Society needs to quit judging other people’s backyards and tend to their own lawns .

  4. Christine Phelan June 15, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    Another great one! Sharing this….

    Sent from my iPad


  5. FD June 15, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    So, your opening position is that she’s “no more a burden than anyone else”, then you actually admit that “if you tally up facts and numbers and all sorts of tangible things” she “doesn’t contribute much to society”…but then you try to justify everything with a substantive argument that her contribution to “life” [sic] means everything is okay.

    Bit of a non-sequitur, isn’t it?

    Every mother is hardwired to protect her kids, I get it. That doesn’t mean that this planet’s resources should be directed to whatever you want with unlimited enthusiasm. Perhaps in your next post you could explain why you think it’s better that the annual spend flowing from your daughter’s condition should go to her, rather than, for example, on basic medication or food for the destitute. Did you know that around 22,000 children die each day due to poverty? They DIE. While your daughter gets special needs education etc etc etc. Think about it.

    • phoebz4 June 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

      FD – you’re just a bundle of sunshine aren’t you? Obviously you know more than me, so I should just wave a white flag of defeat against your impeccable arguments.

      BTW, this part – “While your daughter gets special needs education etc etc etc.” – no, she gets special ed. Period. There is no “etc, etc, etc” in our lives. Meanwhile, her special education keeps many people in jobs, and children fed. So really, it’s a win/win for everyone involved!

      • FD June 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

        1. you admit you can’t respond to my point; and
        2. then, you try to justify the amount of money YOUR child costs to rear by saying it’s a good thing because it keeps people in jobs.

        Do you actually believe the things you’re typing, or are you simply a master troll? Because taking your argument to the extreme, Floyd Mayweather is a shining beacon of societal development, because the more he spends, the better the world gets! Hurrah!

        You would do well to face up to these uncomfortable truths in relation to the (objectively, not subjectively assessed) appropriate allocation of the world’s resources.

        Everyone in this world has something to offer. For example, Dylann Roof offers racist psychotic hatred and murder. You say your daughter offers many positive things, and I’m sure in no position to argue. Fun fact, I have a brother with Downs, so I might actually understand that bit more than you’d thought. But again I suggest you sit back and consider the bigger picture. A polio vaccine costs all of ten cents- yes, TEN CENTS- and yet kids still get polio, while the amount of money spent on saving and improving the lives of first-world folk would pay for every child on this planet to be vaccinated thousands of times over.

    • Koshka June 17, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

      Or how about we support ALL people, those children who suffer from living in poverty (all them, not just the ones at risk of death in the next week), the adults who suffer from living in poverty (even if the “could/should” just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” -which, by the way, just how does one accomplish this while wearing the boots with the straps?).
      Also, resources are not being direct towards Maura or others with health issues with “unlimited enthusiasm”, in fact, very little is directed towards special ed, and other services necessary for people with disabilities.
      Are there some people who I happen to think we shouldn’t put resources towards? Sure (like you, right now). But for each person like that, someone else disagrees with me (like your family & friends). And that’s fine. In fact, that’s good. Because a good society cares for all its people. All of them, regardless of contribution ability. The weak, the infants, the elderly, the sick, the healthy, the happy, the sad. Even the cruel & mean. Even murderers and law breakers.
      Anyway, to me Phoebe is saying that Maura doesn’t contribute to society in an easily measurable way that we typically measure these things (such as working a regular job, paying taxes, etc). But measurable contributions aren’t the only ones that matter. The immeasurable ones do too, and that is where Maura excels.

    • allovus1 June 20, 2015 at 8:08 am # beautiful innocent pure children inspire good people to excel.

  6. allovus1 June 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    FD. Hi. I don’t know you.
    I don’t know why you’re here.
    I’ve come to know Maura and her dear family over some years and their beautiful trek of discovery led by their beloved Maura.
    Each child brings a gift.
    Some children are more straightforward.
    They ARE gifts.
    The onus is on US to understand.
    with Maura, she arrived with her own tag:
    “This is Maura”
    Go Figure.

  7. Sarah June 18, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    I really needed this article today. Thank you

    • phoebz4 June 18, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

      Glad it was there for you!

  8. Rod Aldrich June 29, 2015 at 7:05 am #

    Thanks for reminding us.

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