Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Moms of kids with special needs: myths and realities
I've had this on the brain because this weekend, I got a chance to see how someone else views me/this blog. Babble, to be exact. The writeup for Love That Max in the list of Top 50 Mom Blogs mentions "compassion" and "advocacy" and "acceptance."
I'm proud to be included in this list—in some ways this blog is like my third child, except I don't have to take it to the doctor for check-ups or argue with it about wearing clothes pulled from the laundry. But the description left out one thing: This blog has a sense of humor.
Sometimes I make light of special needs (even out loud, as do a lot of you). Sometimes I joke about the insane stuff we deal with (The Special Needs Parents To-Do List). Occasionally, I poke fun at my husband (Clueless Husbands, The Interview).
Could it be that people aren't comfortable with a special needs blog that's funny at times? Is it something you shouldn't commend a special-needs mom for because, wow, wouldn't that be warped? Could a blog about raising kids with special needs that was an LOL read all the time (which this blog most definitely isn't) ever win Funniest Mom Blog?
Sometimes, I think the world sees moms of kids with special needs in a certain way. I can only speak from experience (duh!), but here goes:
Myth: No matter how OK a special needs mom might seem, there is always an underlying current of sadness in our lives.
Reality: I was sad a lot when Max was very young; I struggled with acceptance and fears about his future. I still get pangs of grief, but they are rare; they have everything to do with my own limitations and nothing to do with the reality of Max. Mostly, I'm a happy mom, and a slightly grouchy wife.
Myth: Moms of kids with special needs must be EXCEPTIONALLY SAINTLY PEOPLE because, you know, we are raising kids with special needs.
Reality: Obviously, there are parents out there who don't treat their kids well, special needs or not. But most moms of kids with disabilities, the ones I know, do what they can for their children. We're not being nice; it's part of the job. Sometimes, we completely and utterly run out of patience. Sometimes, we—GASP!—yell at our kids with special needs. I once wrote that we have to be more selfless than other moms because our kids need us more, which peeved some people, but I do think that's true.
Myth: Moms of kids with special needs are deprived of joys other parents have.
Reality: I have moments of bliss with Max just like I do with Sabrina—and just like any parent has with their kids. I relish what Max can do; I've grown out of mourning what he can't do.
Myth: Moms of kids with special needs have really hard lives.
Reality: I don't think special needs moms have a harder life, words that invoke pictures of Siberian labor camps—just a more involved one. Some of us have medically fragile kids. Most of us spend a fair amount of time teaching and helping our kids to do things other kids automatically do. Simple things get not-simple. Like, as I was writing this, I heard Max wailing and I ran upstairs and his body was halfway off the bed; he didn't have the strength to right himself. Then again, we met parents this weekend whose kid is sleeping on their hallway floor in a gorilla mask. Then again, out of my two kids, Sabrina is the so-called "harder" one. Kids: What variety is truly "easy?"
Myth: Moms of kids with special needs are exceptionally good-looking and charming.
Reality: This one's totally true.
So, what myths did I miss?
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 1:14 AM