How My Son Forever Changed My Perception of People With Disabilities
Maybe I will be incriminating myself as the world’s worst person ever, but there was a time when I was exactly the person I now fear the most. I was the person with whom I hope my son never has to interact, but know he will.
I avoided, felt annoyed by, and downright feared people who didn’t have the same abilities as me. If I saw a person who was disabled in public, I remember thinking, “Shouldn’t someone be with them? What if they try to talk to someone?” I thought if I had to interact with them, I would be uncomfortable, and I didn’t want the “inconvenience” of having to feel that way. Worse, I thought it was “my right” to be protected from it. I am disgusted with myself when I remember this.
Worse, when I thought of the person’s family, I felt sorry for them — for having to care for someone who required so much attention. I really, truly didn’t understand how someone could say, “They’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” I always believed people who said this were just trying to make the best of their situation, or were in stark denial.
Having a son was by far and infinitely, the single most wonderful thing that has ever occurred in my life.
It didn’t happen overnight. We didn’t know exactly what all his diagnoses would mean for him, or for us. But we did know he would be different, and that he would face challenges. I never felt sorry for myself; I never feared what interacting with him would be like. I never thought my life was over.
Maybe my son chose me for a reason. Maybe it’s a cosmic fate, like we are a special kind of soul mates. Maybe the universe was just trying to strike a balance somewhere and the spinner landed on me. Maybe I am just really, really lucky. I don’t know. I am not big on faith or ideologies, but I know one thing with complete certainty: regardless of how or why it happened, I am so grateful. I will never take my son for granted. I will always be his advocate, and I will always have a special place in my heart for people I once misunderstood.
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