While the other moms sit on the bench chatting beside the playground, you are chasing your 5 year old son, trying to keep him from climbing onto strangers’ laps and dismantling the swings. Before you know it, it’s already time to defuse a meltdown. If you’re really lucky, you will get a comment like “you need to learn to handle your child.” You will smile and walk away because you know that she couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to parent a child that is not only from a hard place, but that is mentally disabled. But that statement will make you want to cry anyways. But you won’t, because you will be too busy being supermom to your son.
Although you’ve learned to let it all go, you can still feel the stares and whispers as your son trots by on his toes, flapping his hands and his balloon wildly.
While the mom’s group at church is at a mom’s night out dinner, you are at home caring for your child because there is not a babysitter/childcare center that is equipped to watch him, and your hubby is out working a second job to help support the cost of raising a special needs child.
When all the other parents are deciding what activities SusieQ and Johnny are going to participate in this year, you wish that’s all you had to worry about. Instead, you will be busy scheduling psych visits, IEP meetings, hunting down advocates, finding new therapists, trying out new medication, praying for better days and reading more books on a particular special need. And you will be buying lots of balloons. Lots.
When the mom sitting next to you asks how old your son is and you reply 5, you will see the same old raised eyebrow and confused face. Then that awkward silence will fill the air until you put her at ease. Then she will see that you are just a mom, and your son is just a kid. It’s as simple as that.
When a child asks you why can’t your son talk? or is he a baby? you will calmly and gently explain the situation at their level, but the pang in your heart will ache the rest of the day.
When you hear other moms complaining about trivial, mundane parenting issues, you will want to laugh. You will simultaneously feel like some sort of freakish super human and an alien, all at the same time.
Something bad will happen during your day and you will think to yourself…this is all you got? Really?! If I can fly half-way around the world with my new-to-me special needs son and be a part of his miraculous progress, I can do anything!
When you see your child painfully trying to engage another human being in meaningful contact, you won’t give a flying flip about what others think and you will be so proud of your child that your heart will nearly explode. You will want to scream it from the rooftops…I love my child, he is so completely amazing!!! Rock on Big Brother! Look at my kid, isn’t he amazing?! Do you know how hard he works and how far he has come?!
After a particularly hard day, you will walk into the living room to find this…
You will go to bed with a smile on your face and gratitude in your heart. And then you will awake, and do it all again. Oh, and next time you see that mom at the playground, you will want to stick your tongue out and say nana-na-boo-boo at her because she couldn’t possibly understand the profound joy that arises out of the challenges of being mom to a special needs child.