The Fell Clutch Of Circumstance

“Invictus” William Henley


Today was a hard day.  A bad day, even.  It was a parenting-from-the-couch kind of day, and that always makes the kids’ issues worse.  They’re like little inmates – leave them alone for a minute and things devolve into a knife fight.  No blood today, so there’s that.

In my more negative musings while I struggled to get enough energy to move, I railed against how unfair this is.  All of it.  The kids’ needs, my slow decline into invalidism:  it wasn’t a very “power of positive thinking!” kind of day.   As luck would have it, an article posted for discussion primed my already smoldering flames.

I’ll just plop in the quote that set me off:


“In other words, we feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. People who go through life applying a measuring ruler against every situation, judging its “fairness,” will often feel negative because of it.

It all goes back to ownership of your life. You either accept that responsibility or you don’t. If you don’t, life will certainly be harder than it has to be. But if you challenge that line of thinking, you can, in fact, change the way you feel.”

Dr. Michael Hurd, “Is Life Unfair?”


Hey Mr. Therapist with a PhD – newsflash, I don’t own my life.  In fact, I’ve figure out that I have virtually NO control over my life.  And that is exactly why I’m not too happy with it right now.

I get what he’s trying to say (I think, if you weed through all the snark in his article.)  Think positive and you’ll be a more positive person.  And yes, I get that there’s a powerful mind-body connection.  I know this: just as I know that being constantly negative can really mess with you physically.  But really, it’s not as clear-cut as this quote tries to make it.

It’s not fair that I have health issues like this.  It’s not fair that my child struggles with different wiring that makes life so difficult for him.  It’s not fair that I’ve had 3 miscarriages.  It’s not fair that little kids get cancer, grandmothers get beaten up by crooks, and children vanish into nowhere and are never found again.  Is that all something I can blame people for, or is it just the horrible reality of life?


All I know is that life is hard.  Sure, some people have it easy.  The stars align, their kids are amiable and pliable, they never have a car wreck or a major health issue – which means they’re overdue, basically.  And at my darkest moments, some diabolical voice pops up in my head “it can always get worse!”  Thanks brain, I needed that encouragement.

Kudos to William Henley for being “bloody but unbowed,” but I’m not.  I’m not even the master of my fate – life has dragged that particular illusion from me a long time ago.


I don’t even know why I’m writing this – a public musing, I guess.  To let you know you’re not alone.

When your child struggles so hard with something that is easy for others, I get it.  I know that pain.  When you see your child sick or hurting, I’ve been there.  I don’t have any slick, glib answers about growth mindset or positive thinking.  In fact, I don’t have any answers at all.  All I can say is that we’re all hurting.

Every parent, at some point in their life, feels helpless and powerless to help their child.  Every parent rails against how unfair this is.  And every parent tries their best to fix it.  To do whatever they can to see their child happy and free of pain.  That’s what it means to be a parent – to protect and raise this gift you were given.

Before this becomes a pep talk, I’ll end with this: you do have the power to nudge things.  Even the tiniest change can make a big difference, especially for our gifted kids.  You are your child’s advocate, their warrior.  You can help make them stronger.  You can help them overcome the challenges they are facing.

So even if you’ve had a day like mine, don’t blindly accept fate.  Fight it.  And look for the good and beautiful in your life – because that’s the true balance that counters unfair.


The completely unrelated photo of clouds was one of my “good and beautiful” moments today.  I looked up – and lost myself for a few minutes in how lovely the sky was. 



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