7 Things I Wish My Friends Knew About Raising a Child With Special Needs
Parenting is hard work for all of us. Our journey may seem different compared to yours, but isn’t everyone’s? We all share a common goal: to raise happy, kind, successful kids. So why do I feel a disconnect between us?
Our get-togethers have become brief, awkward exchanges. The relationship we’ve cultivated over the years seems to be disappearing before my very eyes.
So to you, my friends, here are a few things I wish you knew about raising a child with special needs.
1. My child’s apraxia is not a taboo subject. It’s OK to ask me questions about it. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable talking about it with me. In fact, I want you to talk about it with me. I want to be able to share this part of my life with you.
2. Sometimes I just need to vent about it. It’s OK if you don’t know what to say to me. It’s OK if you don’t understand what I’m going through. You’re my friend; I just need you to listen. Be there for me and listen.
3. I’m not better suited to do this than you are. I’m not more patient or understanding than you. I do this because I have to; it isn’t a choice I made. I love my child unconditionally, like you do, and if our roles were reversed, you’d be doing the same things as me. You would not love your child any less. Please stop telling me I was singled out by God. I wasn’t.
4. I am jealous of how “normal” your life is. I know it’s not fair to you; you have your own struggle. It just feels like your struggles are easier to deal with, even if they don’t feel that way to you. I’m just envious of the idea of simplicity.
5. I do not view my son’s disability as a gift — I view my son as a gift. I believe his disability is not who he is. Given the choice, I would not choose for my child to struggle. I would choose a much easier life for him, one without pain or heartbreak.
6. I worry all the time. It consumes me. Am I doing enough? Is he getting the best treatment? I worry about school and him making friends. I worry about trying to find another play date for this weekend so he doesn’t have to spend it playing alone again. So it’s not that I don’t care about what’s going on in your life or that I don’t feel like it’s as important. It’s just hard for me to shift my focus sometimes. It’s hard for me not to worry about everything all the time.
7. I still care about you. Even though it feels like I’m always canceling our girls’ night, I truly value our friendship. It’s just hard for me to find time to go out and sometimes. I’m just too mentally exhausted. Please continue to invite me out, even if it’s just to make me feel included.