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The Top 3 Things I Won’t Tell My Kids

I’ll never forget the day I picked up my perceptive 3-year-old daughter from preschool, and she said a combination of words that left me dead in my tracks.

“Mommy, why am I different than the other kids?”

I looked back in the rearview mirror and saw tears streaming down her little face. I had to pull over. I momentarily felt verbally paralyzed and wanted to cry myself. I asked her to clarify to make sure we were talking about the same thing before I responded. I know people say kids are little, resilient and not aware, but I disagree. When she was young, I had noticed my child had already gravitated towards babies who were not as mobile and didn’t try to keep up with kids her age. I think she knew her physical abilities and leaned towards those she could keep up with. Over time, the questions have increased and gotten harder. I do my best to give age-appropriate explanations about the challenges we all face in our house. I know one day I need to give more, and maybe that day won’t be as hard as I worry it will be. I just know how cruel the world can be. As a parent, while all people are unique and possess different strengths, telling your child they are “different, yet not less” is a unique moment. It needs to be handled with care and tact. While I know that day is approaching, and I don’t know exactly what I’ll say, here are the top three things I won’t say:

1. A diagnosis defines you.
A medical diagnosis is merely a set of words. It should never be used for society to set limits upon others or individuals to set limits upon themselves. Always strive to go beyond and soar through the sky that people thought you could never reach.

2. “Different” means “less.”
In our home, we live loud and proud about the strengths we all possess and the struggles we all face. Life is not easy, but it gets easier if you have confidence in yourself. Everyone has struggles, and while they may not be the same and some may want you to think they’re perfect, nobody is. We’re all different and beautiful in our own right. Never treat anyone like they’re less than you, and always expect the same treatment in return.

3. It was hard on me.
I have to think long and hard every time I write a blog post. While parenting can be difficult to start with, adding in some of these extra worries, specialist, therapies and daily struggles can at times make this feeling seem elevated. However, in no way would I trade it for the world. I always tell people therapy is our sport. Then I smile. Those who know me get it. One day I was with a friend talking about how I can at times struggle juggling everything. He told me, “You’re right, not everyone has to do that, but not everyone gets to either.” I will never forget it because it was so beautifully put. It has and will always be an honor to have helped my kids take on challenges and celebrate like there is no tomorrow when they conquer them. That’s exactly what I will want them to know.

I don’t know everything but I will be open and honest with my children, even if that means having some tough conversations or moments. I will tell them about the struggles I face living with an autoimmune disease and all I need to alter to reach my goals. Today and always I will let them see that I too am an overcomer. I too have faced struggles, beaten the odds and I will face many more. Perfect doesn’t exist, but awesome does, and that is exactly what we all are!

Follow this journey on My Extraordinary Journey.