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When I Was Scared to Say I Was a Special Needs Mom

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My husband and I were talking the other night when out of the blue I asked him a question: “Do you tell people you’re a special needs parent?”

“All of the time,” he said.

I’ve thought a lot about whether I should identify as the parent of a child with special needs the past few years.

When my son was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, I didn’t think much about it at first. But when I started comparing my son to my fellow moms’ kids, I wondered if there was a range to determine if you’re a special needs parent.

How do I dare compare myself with parents of terminally ill children or babies who needed constant care, special equipment, nurses and so on? I didn’t want to discount these parents.

mom hugging son

But I also didn’t want to make light of what my child went through: the appointments, tests, surgery. I don’t want him to think what he overcame wasn’t huge or to be afraid of how this may affect his future.

I was scared to say I was a special needs parent. I was afraid people would judge me and roll their eyes at the fact that my son “looked normal” or think I was using it as a cry for attention. 

After his surgery, he was technically better. Does that mean I was a special needs mom, but I’m not anymore? With the possibility of more surgeries in his future, does that mean I still am?

I pondered these things. Afraid to identify with these other superhero parents. So I looked it up: Special needs can be associated with learning difficulties, emotional or behavioral problems or physical disabilities. Plain English. Easily understood. 

It was written out in front of me. My little boy has a special need.

It wasn’t something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. I believe it’s something we should say proudly.

I am a special needs mom. And you might be, too.

Don’t think just because your child may not seem sick or has overcome a great obstacle that you aren’t.

You’re part of a community, a group of parents who love and fight for their children — who are advocates for all kinds of disorders and diseases. 

We’re all on this rollercoaster called parenting together. With all of the highs and lows and twists and turns, I don’t believe we should worry about things like this. Let’s just lift each other up. No judgment. 

And to my other special needs parents: You are all rock stars. 

Follow this journey at Mrs. Bishop.

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Originally published: March 7, 2016
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