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Why I Don't Feel 'Inspirational' as a Special Needs Mom

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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 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.

Originally published: January 11, 2016
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