"Special needs kids have special needs moms."
I first heard this quote years before I had a child with special needs, back when my husband was on the school board and special ed seemed like a remote problem, nothing to do with my perfect plan for my perfect life. Still, I knew what it meant, knew that the moms were always the ones up in arms over the school's treatment (or mistreatment) of their kids. I knew it wasn't meant kindly and how it heralded the clear division of Us vs. Them.
And now I am one of Them.
A special needs mom.
Sometimes I forget. I walk through life blithely, easily, not mindful of the fact that I have kids with special needs, lots of special needs. I even start to let my guard down a bit.
Inevitably, I am brought back to earth, back to the reminder that I am Them, not Us.
I see this most clearly in my relationships with other moms, see my special needs, see my protective armor. I see it as I reflect in the brutal fact that I haven't added a single friend to my life in the past many years who didn't have a connection to the world of special needs. I see it in the defensive way I respond to those who don't have that connection. I see it when I hear a 'friend' say how glad they are my girls are around to teach their children a lesson, and I hear the subtext: don't expect our children to ever be friends because they are not equals.
And suddenly there I am, in my place, with another callus over an already callused heart.
I wonder how many of us there are, how many special needs moms? How many with callused spots hiding those most tender places in our hearts where our special kids live? How many, like me, who are moved nearly to tears upon realizing a new acquaintance volunteers at her church's special needs program? How many are moved to tears at the very thought of a church having a special needs program? How many who have an even deeper pain, a child who knows they are being rejected and wants to know why?
I don't have a tidy ending for this post. After months of not blogging, I can't even say why I decided to write today, nor can I say who would even read it. Sometimes, though, the urge to not feel so alone is strong, to know that a few of Them are reading and can relate, to remind myself that I am callused and should remember to stay soft toward a world that is much like I once was.