17 hours ago
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Just a babe with a kid who has special needs
I've had one thing on my mind since BlogHer, and it's not BRITNEY SPEARS (if you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, you clearly didn't read my BlogHer opus yesterday). I'm talking about a question that any mom of a kid with special needs has to grapple with at some point:
How do I want people to react when they hear that I have a kid with disabilities?
You'd think that having been Max's mom for six and a half years now, I would have come to terms with how I'd like people to respond. I hadn't, but then I had to contend with the conversation so many times in a row at the BlogHer conference that it really got me thinking (I've been known to do that on occasion).
When I talked with other mom bloggers, sometimes it came up that Max has special needs/cerebral palsy. Or I brought it up. Either way, the typical response was for the other person to look at me with mournful eyes and said, "I'm sorry."
Now, granted, this wouldn't be half as bad if they said, "I am sorry, but he is lucky to have a babe of a mom like yourself, who does your hair?" or "I am sorry, you deserve a $500 gift certificate to a spa, I just happen to have one here in my purse, it's yours!"
No, more often than not I'd get The Sympathy Stare.
It bothers me because, though I understand that people mean well and some don't know how to respond, they're treating the fact that Max has special needs like it's some tragedy. It bothers me because it instantly creates a divide between me and the mom I'm talking with. Her: Mom of typical kid. Me: Not. And then, suddenly, I am feeling just a little sorry for myself. And I don't want to. Why should I? Max is doing amazingly well. And, I'm a babe.
I have decided that the reaction I like best is NO reaction. No sympathy. No "I'm sorry." No sad eyes. Let's just keep talking. You can definitely ask how Max is doing. You can definitely join me in musing over the fact that, yes, it's bizarre that a baby had a stroke. You can definitely comment on how handsome he is.
And you can definitely, of course, acknowledge that I'm a babe.
Photo by Southgater