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To My Friends With 'Typical' Kids Who Compare Their Lives to Ours

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To my friends with “typical” kids,

Let me start off by saying in no way do I want to imply that there are any families out there who have it easy. Let’s be honest, parenting, in general, is hard work and comes with an array of issues we must deal with daily.

However, as a parent of a child with a chronic illness, and for all of us out there, please stop trying to one-up any heartfelt conversations we are having with you. If I am opening up to you about what I am going through, and what my child is going through, it is because I believe you can be an effective and compassionate listener. I am not asking you to understand because most of the time, although I am living it, I myself do not understand it.

I am just asking you to listen.

When I share with you that I am beyond exhausted, please do not compare your exhaustion from taking your child to soccer practice and basketball tryouts with my exhaustion of having to wake up in the middle of the night to give my child medicine that will allow him some semblance of sleep. I would love to be exhausted from taking my child from practices to tryouts or other club activities.

Unfortunately, this is not our reality.

In fact, he has been taken to more doctors’ appointments, specialists, and hospitals than he has been taken to practices and activities. When I am expressing my frustration and fear because my sweet child has resorted to punching and kicking due to his exhaustion, please do not think that compares to your child giving you an attitude because he stayed up too late or doesn’t want to complete his homework. Yes, I agree that kind of attitude can be irritating, and I understand being tired of running from practices or clubs with your child, but remember, being able to participate in those things is a choice. I would give anything to have that part of our life back. To hear your complaint with it shows me that you may not realize what you have.

What is perhaps the most difficult to swallow is having someone attempt to negate my feelings, as though the daily struggles we face with my child’s disorder are imaginary or easy, or even “typical.” I am not looking for a shoulder to cry on and 99 percent of the time, I do not even want to discuss what we are dealing with in our home because sometimes I just need that break away from it.

However, that other one percent of the time, I am just asking you, as a friend, to listen.

Originally published: November 19, 2019
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