When I tell new people that my daughter has special needs, I get many different reactions.
Some people feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say or do. These people often say nothing and just wait nervously for me to move the conversation forward. That makes me uncomfortable, too, but I understand that my words can catch a person off-guard.
Some people don’t give it a second thought and react like it is not a big deal. They don’t flinch at my words and often look at me with an expression that says, “Ok. And…?” I admit, I like this kind of reaction.
And, finally, some people react in sympathy and tell me that they are sorry.
Once a person even audibly gasped when I shared one of my daughter’s diagnoses with her. Let me assure you, that is NOT the type of reaction that special needs parents want to receive.
Sure, my daughter has many medical issues and special needs. She has multiple diagnoses, many specialists to visit, and lots of challenges laid out before her in school and in life.
This has been our reality for the past nine years.
Yes, it is difficult. Very difficult at times. I won’t deny that.
It’s true that I sometimes struggle with this and wish that things were different for her and us. It has been an emotional roller coaster.
Special needs parenting can be scary, frustrating, and lonely at times. But, I’m not sorry.
I am not sorry that I have a beautiful, sassy little girl who makes me laugh every day.
I am not sorry that my daughter has challenged me and made me into a much better person than I ever was before she came into my life.
I am not sorry that my world view and my perspective on everything has changed because of her and our experiences with her.
I am not sorry that she has brought endless joy into my life and the lives of everyone she comes in contact with. I am not kidding. If you meet her, you will know.
No, I am not sorry that my daughter has special needs. And I don’t want you to be sorry either.
Instead of feeling sympathy for me, I want you to see how truly lucky I am. I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter. She is my favorite girl and my best friend.
I want you to know that this life is our normal. I don’t know motherhood any other way.
I am ok with that, and I want you to be, too. Please don’t make me feel like my experience is less than yours because of special needs. I’m just a parent like you.
And I want you to know that my daughter is just like your daughter or son. She is a regular 9-year-old kid who likes watching tv and eating ice cream and playing baseball. Nothing special there.
I want you to know that although I would give anything to make things easier for my child, I would not change a thing about her.
She is who she is because of everything that she is made of. Special needs and all.
So, please don’t be sorry when I tell you my child has special needs, because I’m not.