The Choice I Make When I Start to Compare My Special Needs Journey to Others’

I’m constantly overwhelmed by what my son’s future will look like. He requires daily emotional and physical work like I’ve never known. Now, this is no pity party; I’m forever grateful for my son’s life, and I know parents that carry a much heavier load than I do. But I guess that’s where the story begins…

There are special needs parents all over the world doing what I do without a washing machine or running water. There are single parents, I know personally, who have kids with more severe disabilities. Then there are parents of typical children. My son has an intellectual disability. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle? I have trouble connecting with them all!

My heart breaks for the parents in other parts of the world with little or no resources. And when I’ve had the pleasure of being around those people, I’m consumed with guilt for all my silly complaints. My dear friends who do it on their own without any help from a spouse or partner — I’m in awe. Who am I to complain when I have a husband to share the responsibility with? I sometimes have trouble appropriately empathizing with parents of typical kids or of kids with a mild disability, because their struggles seem “less” than mine.

I guess what I’m saying is, we all don’t fit in. We can constantly feel guilty and humbled around those in extreme circumstances. Or we can love them harder, lift them up, support them to the best of our ability and let them know we’re thinking about them. Same goes for typical parents. We can feel superior with our struggles, or we can listen and share advice and perspective. We can let them know their fears and problems matter to us too.

Being caught in the middle has given me a great perspective, even if I feel a bit left out at times. I’m constantly rendered speechless by the brave parents I meet, affected by all types of disabilities. And I’m so grateful and honored to know so many compassionate and loving parents of typical kids; they so often ground me and bring me back to earth.

We all have a story. We all have struggles. We all matter, and we all deserve to be loved and cared for, no matter the degree of our circumstances.

A version of this post first appeared on PRIDE Coaching.

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