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Being the mother of a child who requires special attention is a very private matter. Most people take parents of special needs children for their face value, never really thinking about the hard truths they face from day to day.
As Daniel gets older his diagnosis becomes more apparent…and at times more painful. Daniel was a typical baby; he did the typical baby things. At the start of life everything is pretty much an even playing field.
As time went on we saw his development steadily slow. First he was weeks behind children his age, then a month or two, and now the inevitable year (gulp). As I struggle with his progress, or at times the lack thereof, I feel the need to reach out to other parents, with or without children like mine, in hopes to connect or help others understand.
Here are a few of my hard truths:
1. Avoidance is key: When Daniel was born I would relish the fact that he was "right on track" for a child his age. Now it is a different matter. I avoid development charts and articles at all costs. Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." I find this to be true.
2. I lie: There. I said it. Not big lies, but tiny little ones. When people ask me if Daniel is eating solids yet or if he is saying anything new, I try to come up with something, >anything to get them to not utter the words "I'm so sorry." I don’t know about other special needs parents but those words are like kryptonite. I hate them. Please do not feel sorry for me.
3. I'm jealous: This is hard for me. I am not naturally a jealous person. I see children that were born the same time as Dan and it almost kills me that they are potty trained, can talk full sentences, will color quietly for hours on end, and can say elephant in three languages...or whatever kids are doing at their age.
4. A constant failure: There is not a day that I lay down my head thinking I did enough to help Dan succeed in this world. I am always worrying that I’m not doing enough to help him "be all that he can be." Maybe there's a therapist we should be seeing? Did I read enough with him today? Maybe we should have worked harder or longer on our animal sounds? The list is endless.
5. Feeling left out: There are times when social media and networking sucks. I loathe the mornings I log in to Facebook only to find new pictures of some awesome birthday party that we weren't invited to. This might be the most painful thing for me. I pray our exclusion from fun outings and parties is because the moms in our community think I’m a huge "B" and not because they don’t want to invite Dan.
6. I am proud: Being a mom of "typical" and "special" children gives me the authority to say what I am about to. Having a child that has to work one hundred times harder to achieve something that comes easily to another is at times frustrating. That being said, when special children achieve something remarkable (like talking or walking), there is no greater joy in THE WORLD. There are many times I am so proud and my heart is so full that I cry- a lot.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.