To the Mom of the Kid with Special Needs:
I see you. I see you on your phone at the park while your child is happily playing. I see you having conversations with other moms and tip toeing around your child’s accomplishments and mishaps. I see you at a birthday party leaving before the cake is cut avoiding the chaos that’s about to ensue. I see you at the store walking past your child as they have a meltdown in the middle of the aisle. I see you bury your head deep into your chest at those play dates with other moms… anxious and embarrassed about the things they say about you behind your back.
I want you to know that although I see you… I don’t judge you a single bit. In fact, I want you to know that you’re not alone. You are never alone. Fuck those other moms tossing judgment your way. They don’t know your story. They don’t know that you just spent the morning handling meltdown after meltdown by calming and reassuring your toddler. They don’t know that this time at the park is the first minute in 4 hours that your toddler is content. They don’t know that you are taking the moment to soak up some patience before you head into your afternoon.. which likely will be full of more meltdowns. Those other moms don’t know the daily struggles of getting your toddler to brush her hair or get dressed. They don’t know the constant need for routine and structure. They don’t know how one mishap can throw your day into turmoil. They don’t know how chaos can set the tone for your day. Those other moms don’t know the emotional exhaustion you feel from being on your “A Game” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. How dare those other moms judge you for a story they don’t know. I want you to know that I see you… and I understand.
My daughter, Eloise, is 2 and a half years old. She has special needs. It took me months to actually say that out loud and to accept the fact that our life would never be the same. My daughter has special needs. Special needs. I say it over and over again and think that maybe this is just a phase. Maybe she’ll grow out of it. But the reality is… this is our life. It’s not a phase. It doesn’t change, and it definitely won’t go away. It means our life is complex. It’s full of anxiety, meltdowns, special quirks, and different ways of handling things. Our life isn’t typical or normal. It’s not what you see on TV. It’s not what you see in your friend’s lives. I’ve fought to change our life for so long, but it’s time for me to stop fighting it. It’s time to start accepting it. Our life with Eloise isn’t easy, but it’s full of creativity, laughter, passion, and a variety of fulfilling emotions. Our life is deep and meaningful… and we are learning to love every moment. You should, too.
Enjoying cupcakes, wine, and good conversation.
I can’t even begin to tell you the number of opinions I’ve heard when it comes to my daughter with special needs. I’m sure you’ve heard the same or similar things. “Maybe you shouldn’t cater to her. Be more strict. Be more flexible. Don’t let her run the house. You’re the parent, she’s the child. Don’t let her be the boss. Tell her no. Stop treating her like a baby. You’re not doing anything for her. You’re not getting her the help she needs. You’re doing nothing right.” To the mother with many opinions, shut up. Seriously. Shut up. Your opinion isn’t wanted. Your opinion isn’t needed. No one fucking asked you. I sit at the park on the my phone. I’m silent in mommy groups. I stare at my child having a meltdown in the middle of Target. I leave birthday parties early or avoid them all together. I go out of my way sometimes to make my child happy. But that’s what I do to survive. No other mother in or out of my shoes should judge me for surviving. You don’t know my story, so do us all a favor and keep your mouth shut.
On top of sensory processing disorder, Eloise has anxiety… severe anxiety. It comes and goes in waves and some days are better than others. It spikes when the sun starts to set or anytime the day is cloudy. Eloise’s anxiety calls for extra attention. Extra sensitivity. I’ve been sleeping in Eloise’s bed for the past 6 months, and I get made fun of by other people for it all of the time. Does it bother me? Absolutely. For any person to act like they know what it’s like to live with an anxious toddler, or to know my daughter’s needs is an ignorant piece of shit. I make my parenting decisions based on her needs. Not how society expects me to be. Not what other parents think is acceptable. Not what a book tells me I should and shouldn’t do. We’ve learned the special quirks. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work. We do what we can to survive. We do what we can to be happy and fulfilled in our own “special” little lives.
To the mom of the kid with special needs, I see you. And I see how hard you are trying. I am giving you a standing ovation, and I support you. I am here for you as an ear to listen, a friend to bitch to, a person to tell how badly you wanted to strangle yet cuddle your child all at the same time. I’m here for you. To listen to your sarcasm, to wipe away your tears, to pour you a bottle of wine. I want you to know that I don’t judge you. I am you. And we are in this…. together. Cheers!
A Mom of a Kid with Special Needs