Thursday, February 14, 2013

Special Needs Mom

"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.


Hevel said...

"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 was going to say, hey, I don't have that connection! Then it dawned on me. I have it. Except my children are just the way they are, and I do "forget" about them being "special" needs, they are just needs. Yet, for the world, those are special needs... and those are bigger differences than the world around me is often willing to handle.

Leah S. said...

I'm here I get IT. I GET it. I hear the same subtexts and and cry at many of the same things. I forget that we're not "normal" in our house. Everyone says I have such a stressful life, (having 3 kids with Down syndrome) and I look around me like surely they're talking about the person behind me. I mean, if my life was so stressful, wouldn't *I* know it? It's just our life. But I do miss going to school and just being one of the moms. Instead I feel like I have this special needs cloud floating over my head that somehow causes others to feel something like pity toward me. I'm not amazing. I'm really not. I'm just me. After reading your blog I did a mental checklist of all the friends in my life. Very few have kids who don't have significant special needs, and those friends live very different lives than I do.

Hope Anne said...

I'm glad you posted again. And I have to say that since my first kiddo was special needs, I sort of am used to this life by now in a certain way . . . **BUT** Katya's level of special needs has taken me to a whole new place in life. And most of my best friends are special needs Moms--and one Dad. It's a diffenet life . . . but it's OK . . . most of the time. And I have to say that I have learned to know some really cool people (you included) in this journey . . . Hugs.