Like Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I was born in the year of the Tiger. I’m twelve years younger than Chua and not nearly so economically advantaged, but that’s not why I don’t relate to her.
I do relate to Emily Rapp, whose beautiful and painful articles (NY Times, The Nervous Breakdown, Salon.com, about her son’s terminal battle with tay-sachs disease bring to mind many of my own misadventures in parenting.
Unlike Rapp’s son Ronan, Liam’s severe congenital heart defects may or may not end his life before my own life ends. Our future is ambiguous at best, but Liam has come close to death on three different occasions and is living on the frontiers of medical science where very, very few have gone before and survived. Those who have gone ahead of Liam are not much older than he is, and the fall out of their inventive surgeries is being played out day by day in a precarious dance of invented interventions.
No, Liam might live, so I cannot be like Rapp and refuse to plan for an impossible future. She cannot plan Ronan’s future because he doesn’t have one. Ronan will die before Emily; Liam may yet outlive Amanda. No one knows. No, I am not a Dragon Mom either. So, what am I?
Well, I’m certainly more Dragon Mom than Tiger Mother. Still, I am not guarding a dying treasure, but rather I’m nurturing an uncertain future. Like Chua, I want both of my children to thrive and be successful, even if they might not both grow up. I have an identity crisis, as usual. So, since I’ve had to make up pretty much everything as I’ve gone along on this journey and literally wrote my own book, I’m calling myself a Wyvern Mom. Wyverns are sort of dragon hybrid, and Liam did a report on Wales last year and had to draw one for the Welsh flag. So, Wyvern I am.
Tomorrow – Part Two, what it means to be Wyvern.