A mother almost gave her son up as a baby after labeling him “ugly,” but he grew up to do amazing things despite a trying childhood.
Robert Hoge was born with a “tennis ball-sized” tumor in the middle of his face that caused him to look so disfigured that his own mother wouldn’t look at him for a week after the birth.
“I wished he would go away or die or something,” Hoge’s late mother wrote in her diary at the time, according to the Daily Mail. “I told the hospital staff I didn't want my baby. I wouldn't under any circumstances take it home.”
She ultimately did, however, and her feelings changed over time.
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Though she was initially embarrassed of her son, Hoge said his mother soon began to shift her thinking towards the challenges of raising a child with such a medical condition, which also left his legs so severely damaged that they needed to be amputated.
His mother, he said, “separated her shock from her concern over how she'd raise a child with major medical conditions.”
“She split the embarrassment she was concerned about feeling if people stared at me from her worries over the impact bringing me home would have on the rest of her children,” he wrote in a piece for Good Housekeeping.
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By the age of 10, Hoge became aware of his mother’s feelings towards him.
“From time to time I'd ask her to read 'from the book about when you didn't want to bring me home.'" he wrote. "My parents would talk to me honestly and openly about their feelings when I was born. It was ultimately vital in helping me understand my place in the world."
When he was 30-years-old and became a parent, Hoge said he began to understand why his mother might have felt the way she did.
“My mother had four healthy children before me and to not have some shock when a child is born with some medical issues would be a surprise,” he told the Daily Mail. “I didn't really feel hurt by my mother being initially reluctant to take me home. It was like a movie that has some sad parts in the middle but has a happy ending.”
Hope said he “really appreciated” his parents’ honesty with him about their feelings early on in his life. He also learned some valuable lessons, which he carried with him, so much that he wrote a bestselling book, called "Ugly," about it.
“The lesson I was left with was that our children are not born impeccable only to have their perfection worn away over time," he wrote in his Good Housekeeping piece. "No, they are born as they are born -- beautiful, different, disfigured, challenged."
“Perfection actually comes afterward. It is created when we take that beauty, that difference and those challenges and write the stories of our children word-by-word, decision-by-decision, day-by-day, and fill up the little blue diaries of their lives," he concluded.