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The Apology I Owe My Facebook Friends With 'Typical' Children

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For parents of special needs children social media can be an amazing network of support and knowledge to help us care for our kids.

We can find people locally and across the country who understand the frustration and joy that our current friends with typically developing kids (or no kids) sometimes cannot. We can find adaptive toys, equipment and clothing that will help our children have more inclusive lifestyles. It’s also easier for us to keep people up to date on our kid’s progress so we don’t have to constantly tell the same stories.

But as wonderful as this outlet can be, for us, social media can also be painful. So painful that if not for all the reasons above, I would have deleted my account over a year ago.

I owe an apology to my dear friends with “typical” children who have been so supportive. These are my friends who “like” so many of my son, Jak’s, photos I post and leave comments that are so encouraging. You do this for me, my husband and for my son, yet I can’t do it for you and your children.

I have written this to try to help you understand why, and to heal any hurt I may have caused by not doing so.

I feel I have come to terms with my son’s injury, as well as all the diagnoses and delays that have come with it so far. I generally feel I have processed the event in a healthy manner, but that doesn’t make facing it is easy.

Seeing kids who are years older than Jak (in photos, videos or real life) usually doesn’t bother me. But kids who are his age or younger and who do things he cannot often strikes a chord in me. I end up in a sad and angry place that doesn’t have a name, that doesn’t understand, that feels a tinge of jealousy and doesn’t have the energy to feel joy for someone else because the pain of sadness is overwhelming.

So far, my understanding is these feelings will never go away, but they steal away into the recesses of my mind to sometimes pop out when I’m at my most vulnerable. I don’t feel this way every day, just sometimes. And in those times, I could not “like” the video of your daughter guiding herself across the stair rail, wobbling with the sweetness of first steps.

I cannot comment on how adorable your son is in his high chair eating Cheetos, though when I post photos of Jak, messy from his therapeutic tastes, you always like them right away.

I won a battle with myself when I “liked” the photo of your daughter smiling brightly and hugging her face tightly to yours. I mourned because I can’t have that yet with Jak and the love of it all broke my heart. But I told myself I would show you both the love I had for you, and I did. But I didn’t have the strength to do it the next time.

Woman and her baby son, smiling.

Sadly, I am most sensitive when I find out my friends are pregnant or have had their new babies, because Jak’s injury was at birth. Thinking about that time upsets me more than anything else. When I see these things I have to quickly scroll on to try to stay away from that dark place within me. 

Your children are amazing and they are beautiful. You are wonderful parents and I love you all, but I often can’t show it. Please don’t think I’m asking you to stop sharing to spare me. I will see things that upset me all around. But I love you, so keep sharing.

Share their steps, share their words, share their laughter and all of their accomplishments. Show me their beauty. Be proud, but please understand why most times I cannot participate in the comments and the “liking” of your posts.

Please don’t be hurt or hold it against me when I don’t seem supportive, especially when you are. I am trying and I will get better. I love you and I’m sorry.

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Originally published: June 29, 2015
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