An open letter to all parents

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Hi : ) Especially hi to all the folks who are brand new to this blog. I just wanted to write a very quick letter (aka blog) because of an inboxed message that I received today.

The message was from a person that I know, and they have kids of their own. Their children do not have any special needs. The message was sent because this person was a bit hurt that I have implied that they do not ‘understand’ and that we special needs parents have a bond that other people don’t ‘get’.

I read this, then re-read it. I did reply, and I would like to share with you what I said, because I, in no way, have meant to offend or alienate anyone- I realize all (or most) parents love their children with all of their hearts, fight for them on a daily basis, and have strong bonds with them. I would never imply otherwise. I have a daughter without any special needs, and I feel the same love, dedication and devotion to her as I feel for Logan- its just a little bit different.

What I mean when I say that special needs parents have a bond is this:

Parenting a child is tough. I get that. I have done that, and am doing that. You have your child, he/she grows, develops a personality, learns his/her ABC’s, enrolls in school, maybe joins soccer/brownies/swimming- whatever. I did all of this with Abby, I get it. She was an early talker, and picked things up very quickly. She went to school, made friends, brought home papers with star stickers on them. She played soccer (albeit not very well) and we went to practices, games, had pictures taken- all that. She joined Brownie’s, after school programs, got invited to birthday parties. She received awards, did Science projects, and made Christmas lists.

I proudly shared these moments with others. I called up friends and relayed her progress “Abby won a trophy! Abby got straight A’s!”

When you have a child with any significant special needs- now, this can be mental, emotional or physical- this can even be illness or injury related- but if you have a child who has needs, the things I listed above may be extremely difficult to achieve, or absent all together. This makes parenting a child with special needs extremely lonely. If you are lacking things to brag about, or if your things are very small (to others, not to you!), some parents might not appreciate this huge achievement the way a parent who is experiencing this might. I mean honestly- if your little Susie just won Class President today, but your friend’s teenager learned to tie his shoes today, although you may realize this is an accomplishment, you might not understand that this achievement feels the same to us- see what I mean?

When you have another parent who has a child that has also watched an entire class of kids pass by- you have a bond. When you have another parent who has a child who does not get invited to birthday parties, cannot pass in a Science project, cannot write out a Christmas list- you have a bond. You have an unspoken understanding- you know how that parent feels.

I have been, and continue to be on both sides of this fence. I have one child who excels- she is fantastic at anything she sets her mind to doing, and I have one child who struggles to write his own name. I love them equally, but I support them differently. Unless you have a child who needs this type of “different” support, you can’t relate- as hard as you may try.

I don’t want to make anyone feel like I am saying they are less of a parent- that’s not IN ANY WAY what I am saying! You SHOULD be proud, you should share the excitement of trophies and awards and good grades. I WANT to hear about those things! I’m proud of your child too, because its tough to be a kid these days. I love parents who want to brag! I just want you to know that although I am happy for you and your child, I am envious at times. I wouldn’t trade Logan for anything- and I wouldn’t change him. I wish things were easier for him, yes, but I would never want him to be different.

I just want you all to know- although I may post about our struggles, his struggles- and I may post about our fight- I understand that every parent is fighting, and every child struggles with something at some point. I am on a more difficult journey than some of you, and some of you are on a more difficult journey than I am, but we are all on a journey that hopefully ends with our kids growing into happy adults.

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