10 Things This Special Needs Mom Wishes You Knew
What is the definition of a special needs mom? We are the silent armies for our children. We are the unsung heroes who may never get public recognition, but continue to fight the good fight for our kids day and night. A special needs mom is the equivalent of Batman, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk combined with a side of Mary Poppins. For our kids, we aren’t just supermoms. We are their cheerleaders, their advocates, their nurses and their therapists.
My newest addition, Asher, made me a special needs mom. We all know the endless job titles and duties that go along with being a mom in general, but I wanted to share 10 things I wish you knew about my life as a special needs mom.
1. I tend to have a smile on my face when surrounded by friends and family, but on the inside, I’m constantly battling being exhausted, uncomfortable and at times, lonely. We all love our children immensely, but it wont take the pain away because we know we can’t always take away the hurt they may feel.
2. My son shows an enormous amount of love, and he needs the same shown to him. He brings joy and laughter to those who know him, but he is definitely capable of expressing other feelings. He cries and screams just as much as he laughs and smiles.
3. Knowing other children with special needs doesn’t make you an expert on my child’s diagnosis. So please don’t tell me my son is “high-functioning” or only has a “mild” case of Down syndrome. And please refrain from telling me my son looks “normal,” because who really gets to decide what’s normal in the world today? Children with special needs are all born different and develop at different paces, just like “typical” children do.
4. Even though we have moments of loneliness, we moms are able to be a part of a supportive community, whether it be on social media or right next door. It takes a village to raise any children. When you do find that mom who just “gets it,” well, it’s pretty transforming!
5. My son is smart, creative and talented. It might take him a little longer to learn things, but with help from his therapist and doctors, he will get there. Don’t ever assume my son can’t do what your children do. I don’t, and I will always motivate him to do whatever he wants in life.
6. We moms are more alike than different. I start my morning the same as you likely do. I have my coffee, shower, and fight to get everyone ready for the day. I worry about the laundry and dishes piling up, and stress over the house looking like someone ransacked it. I bicker with my spouse and all the other experiences that go along with being married. There are plenty of things we can find common ground on, and I want you to know that at the end of the day, we are all still moms.
7. My child might make noises, bang his head on me, flail his arms and legs, or even randomly start crying while strolling through the grocery store. I don’t mind if you look, but please don’t stare with your mouth wide open. He can’t help when he feels anxious or frightened, and his environment strongly affects his behavior.
8. I know my son touches other people’s lives every day. His influence on others is much greater than mine could ever be.
9. I want you to talk to your children about my child. I understand they have questions about people with disabilities, but you aren’t doing anyone a favor by not answering them. Teach them not to stare, point, whisper, ignore, or bully. Teach them to use respectful words amongst their peers. Teach them that using the R-word is not OK and is offensive to our children. Talk to them about how alike people are with disabilities to them, and encourage your child to interact with my son and even befriend him.
10. I want you to know how hard I am on myself even before all the questions asking if we could do more to help him hit his milestones come my way. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m the perfect parent for my children, and that’s good enough for me at the end of the day.
A version of this post originally appeared on My Atlanta Moms Club.