Or “you were given an autistic son for a reason. I could never do what you do,”.
I’ve heard versions of these over the years. And it grates every time.
1: Special needs children are a burden/impossibly difficult to raise.
And 2: Somehow God looked at me, my anxiety and impressive lack of patience and said, “heck yeah, lets give her an autistic child”.
Kids are kids are kids. Whether they have special needs or are typically developing, it is a lot of work to raise a child. Feeding, potty training, teaching them everything from wiping their noses to mastering basic arithmetic. There’s a million ways you can and will screw up. Even if you’re raising perfect, little robots with pristine behavior, there’ll still be days you’ll forget to plug them in overnight for charging.
And the extra work and time involved in raising a child on the spectrum? It ain’t easy. I mess up gloriously with him every single day. From picking the wrong battle to fight to giving in when I need to stay firm – oh, I’m the poster child for imperfect parenting.
BUT. But, I’m not special because my child has special needs.If anything, I’m just as average as you are. I have the same worries and wrinkles, plus a few extra ones. I cry as often as you do, and I binge eat the same unhealthy crap we both should be avoiding.
If there’s anyone who is special, it is our kids. Battling with his own anxieties, trying to make sense of a chaotic classroom – sure, my son has some added challenges. He wages wars every day, while your kids – your beautiful, pure kids stand by his side, ready with a healing smile. They know when to step in with a hug, and when to give him that extra minute. They are not blind to his issues, rather they’re more mindful and accepting of it. And if mere children are so evolved, why do us mature adults, have a hard time looking past their differences? Why do we whisper in hushed tones, or offer looks of pity when we see differently abled children?
Tell me honestly, if you had a “special” child, would you have just rolled over and given up? If your answer is “hell no”, then how am I any more extraordinary? We‘re all in this together, stumbling and pretending like we know what we’re doing. We’re all embellishing our timelines with cool pictures, while our offspring scream and tantrum in real life.
But we don’t abandon our kids and we don’t consider them a burden. We’re stronger than that, and we’re better than that. Day in and day out, we wake up with our heads held high and our capes flying higher.
The pride I feel when he’s successful, and the tears I hide when he struggles – those are essential parts of my parenting experience. I need to go through that – it’s what moms do. I don’t need a medal because I talked him down from an anxiety attack.I don’t deserve praise for a skill he has acquired – with his sweat and tears. Because then, it reinforces this idiotic notion that I’m the hero of this whole story. This journey has never been about you and me. Honestly, we’re all just extras, glad to work with these perfect, mercurial, method actors we call our kids.
If you ever come across a child you consider special, treat them with the same respect you’d want for your kids. Don’t talk down to them, don’t assume incompetence. They may be different, but they’re no less capable. Do yourself a favor and extend a hand of friendship.
I’ve met some incredible women online and in real life. They don’t offer me pity. They know not to put me up on a pedestal. They laugh at my wildly different kids, the same way I make fun of theirs. They respect the label my son has, but scoff at the perceptions that come along with it. They see my highly exasperating, severely opinionated little child and they know she’s considered the “normal” one. This post is for them and for so many more of you.
But I also dedicate this post to all of you who have kids that are just a little “different”.
It’s a beautiful day to be a mom!