This is one of the most common conversations I have as the parent of a daughter with special needs:
Other person: “I don’t know how you do it!”
Me: “You just do it, because it's for our kid and this is our life.”
Other person: “I don’t think I could ever do it.”
Me: “That’s what I thought too, before I ever had to do it. Then life happened, Syona came into our world and we are just doing what we have to do as parents.”
I’ve had countless conversations with people that follow the same script above, almost word-for-word. While it’s nice to hear that others think you’re doing a great job, I’m not comfortable being put on a pedestal. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything particularly remarkable because I'm just parenting my kid, the same as the rest of you. And truthfully, although my experience as a parent may involve a few different elements, I don’t think my world is all that different from parents who have typically developing kids.
A few weeks ago, I came across the blog post, “The Most Powerful Thing You Can Say to Another Mom." This compelling piece had some wise words that connected moms, despite each of the individual experiences and challenges we all face. Like many of you who've read it, this post left me in tears—for the mom who lost her child, and the perspective that was shared and because so much of what she wrote is true for my world.
Don’t get me wrong, as special needs parents we deal with a lot. The challenge of scheduling appointments alone has occasionally left me in tears. Many of us have watched our kids face medical emergencies and health scares that teach us to appreciate how precious life can be. Managing finances, paperwork and systems that just don’t make sense can sometimes feel like a full-time job.
However, much of what we feel as special needs parents are experiences shared by all parents. And when others look at us and highlight the differences in our experiences it actually has a counter-intuitive effect. What I really want is for another mom to look at me like just any other mom. So next time you see a mom struggling with a wheelchair, or a parent trying to walk their child through a sensory-induced meltdown, remember that I'm simply the parent my child needs me to be—and that's only type of parent I know how to be.
You’re a mom. You know.
Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.
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