Why I Don’t Feel ‘Inspirational’ as a Special Needs Mom

When I think about people who embody the definition of the word inspiration, the names of Helen Keller, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and others who have overcome substantial obstacles come to mind. I think about those who have made profound contributions to society, such as Bill Gates, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. I see the faces of those who have forged through roadblocks and were forced to defend themselves, like Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi and Anne Frank. I think about countless others who put their lives on the line daily protecting our streets, our communities, our countries.

I personally do not feel comfortable being placed amongst these prestigious ranks. The people I have mentioned have made a profound impact on billions of people. They have redefined industries and caused ripple effects that have lasted decades beyond their times. They are visionaries.

When I think of myself, the word that comes to the forefront of my mind is “mom.

Randi smiling and holding her baby. Her baby is wearing a green headband with a purple bow.
Randi smiling and holding her baby. Her baby is wearing a green headband with a purple bow.

I am a mom of four beautiful children, three who are typical and one who has CDKL5, a genetic disorder that will leave her with a lifetime battling seizures and profound developmental delays. I will make decisions on all of my children’s behalves until they are old enough to weigh in. I will be an advocate for all of my children no matter their cognitive abilities. I will defend my children in all situations.

I will love each of my children unconditionally — not because I am an inspiration, but because I am a mom.

I am a mom who makes mistakes daily but tries her best each day. I may have to make decisions you will never have to in your lifetime, but that does not make me any more of an inspiration than you. I am sure you are faced with decisions I am not. Yes, I am a mom who is faced with tough challenges, but I am not alone. There are others on parallel journeys, others on journeys more difficult than mine.

I am not special. I am a mom who will go to the ends of the earth, just like you, because that is what a mom does.

While I appreciate your kind sentiment and am flattered that you hold me to such high esteem, I would like to ask, “Why am I considered inspirational?” Is it because I have to watch my child endure minutes of daily seizures? Is it because I have not publicly cracked under the pressures of raising a child with special needs?

Randi and her daughter outdoors
Randi and her daughter outdoors

While your words of encouragement, praise and support offer me much-needed support during my darker days, I would like you to know that I am no more an inspiration than you, the mom of one or multiple children; you, the mom of a typical child; you, the mom of a child with special needs; you, the mom of a child who is no longer physically present.

It may appear that I’m an inspiration, but I assure you, I am not doing anything differently than you would do if you found yourself in my shoes.

I am just a mom.

Follow this journey at Sonya’s Story.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Uncategorized Disorders

To the Mom Whose Baby Was Just Diagnosed With Lymphatic Malformations

I know you’re scared, confused and worrying about your baby’s outcome. I’m here to give you a little reassurance. My mom was in your exact position 14 years ago. She was scared and wondering if her baby would ever be able to live a “normal” life. Let me say this: “Normal” doesn’t exist. Your baby will [...]

Why I’m Proud to Be Called ‘Different’

You could call me different. Look up that word on Dictionary.com and the definition you’ll find is “not ordinary; unusual.” It’s true that from the get-go, my lifestyle was anything but typical — and not by choice. I was born with an extremely rare genetic neurological condition called hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy, type 2 [...]

No, It’s Not ‘Tired Mommy Syndrome’

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office wearing a crinkly paper gown as the nurse asked me a few questions. I described the fog that resided in my head, like my head was stuck in a cloud. I couldn’t complete simple tasks like record-keeping at work or remembering appointments. I had gained weight even though I was eating better [...]

Why I’m No Longer Hiding the Reality of My Illness

I’ve spent this past week learning how to self-cannulate, how to locate veins in my arms, how to make them stand out by dipping a limb in hot water, how to tell which ones are sclerosed from old cycles of chemotherapy from the way they feel when a needle meets the vein wall. In three [...]