On a daily to weekly basis I read of stories in the papers, of another special needs child missing, hurt, humiliated, bullied, or ridiculed and I can’t help but feel the sting, as my heart aches for the child and their families. As a mother of two children of special needs, I feel a deep connection to these families and their lost, their frustration, and their struggle. While I could sit and list the specifics of each of my children’s diagnosis and their daily struggles, I will spare you because this is not able labels. This is about human compassion and empathy for others. This is a mother’s plea….
I have seen the harsh comments thrown in the direction of mothers like me, the awkward stares, the rude comments, and the suggestions of how to control our child’s behaviors. While I could write an article to strive to educate others about the signs and symptoms, or discuss meltdowns versus tantrums; I would rather ask you to consider your own journey, the one of motherhood.
You learn of the news of your pregnancy, your nervous and anxious of the thought of bringing a new life into this world. You contemplate names and nursery colors and then the big day arrives. You look in your baby’s eyes and you feel their soft skin against your own and you learn of a love you never knew existed before this moment. This experience is no different for a mother of children with special needs.
We want the same things you want, we want to see our children grow and thrive, and become successful in society. We are anxious to hear their first words, see their first steps, and watch them make a silly face trying their first food. We want them to run in the door from school excited to tell us about the new friends they made, to share a picture they colored, and to embrace us with loving arms. We worry, we cry, we feel proud of their accomplishments, and we want nothing but the best future for our children.
Where we are separated in our journey is terms of while you might be enjoying watching your child play a game of soccer or baseball, I am taking my child to hours of therapy. Where you child might whiz through the ten problems of math, my child spends hours and gets frustrated not understanding and goes into sensory overload banging their head on the table. You get the idea here.
While it might appear we seek attention, request special treatment, or want a thousand accommodations. We are actually seeking for our child to be accepted, for our child to have means to fit into a world that is not equipped to slow down for others, but where people are expected to adapt. We don’t want to ruin someone’s meal, or interrupt a movie. We didn’t come to the grocery store hoping our child would have a meltdown in aisle 6 that pierces the ears of everyone there. Instead we have spent our day planning meticulously the time we felt was best suited to attempt the grocery store in hopes of best avoiding that very meltdown. We have packed a bag of a thousand things to help our child while out to dinner, at a movie, or even the playground.
So my plea is this, while I don’t expect to understand your journey, your struggles or your feats, be kind enough to realize, no one shares this ability. We all are traveling the path we have been given in this life. While you stare at my child, realize we are working hard to teach him how to cope in these settings and while it might not be pleasant for any of us, the only way he or she will learn is to be exposed to these settings. While you made that rude comment, that I want attention or I want special privileges; take a second to reconsider that while you enjoyed that ballgame with your kid, I watched mine have every button pushed in three hours of therapy crying their heart out because they were being challenged so they can fit into our world. Realize that I am a mom like you; I wake up every day wanting the best for my children, striving to provide for them the best way possible, to ensure they have a secure future, and the best education and I do it with a loving heart and tender touch. I am not that different from you. I cry, I hurt, I hate when my kids are sick, I try to get them to eat their veggies, and get their required hours of sleep. While our journeys are different, we are still united in parenthood.
I make a plea to you to embrace mothers of all kinds, listen to their stories, share in their triumphs, and reach out to them in their struggles, and show compassion and empathy for one another along this path of life. Lead by example, so our children learn to accept and embrace others that are not exactly like they are, and that being different is okay. We have so much we can learn from each other’s walk; let us not waste our time pointing fingers, hurting each other’s feelings, but rather by extending ourselves, and raising a generation of children that share a level of compassion and empathy for all.
[author image=”http://kidzedge.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Melinda-McMahon.jpg” ]Melinda McMahon has been a stay at home mom off and on for the past thirteen years, and currently has been home with her youngest daughter for the past four and a half. Melinda also goes to college full-time and homeschools her children.[/author]
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