So many of us moms who have a child or children with special needs feel the need to put on a brave face, a happy face, a hopeful face, and maybe even a helpful face for them.
We often mask the hopeless face, the heartbroken face, the desperate face, and even the angry face in order to protect them and maybe even ourselves. Until we are nearly drowning and gasping for air.
I encourage service and support providers to give the parents an opportunity to reach out, to assure them that it’s okay to let the mask down because masking the hard doesn’t help anyone.
Here is a letter I wrote to one of the providers for my son. She is one of the people who had who the most impact on my journey with special needs parenting, and she did this just by making this one point on this one day.
Dear Service Coordinator,
There have been so many people who have impacted me on this special needs parenting journey, but there was one thing you said to me that impacted me the most so far. You were in our home and I kept saying things like “It’s not that bad” and “I know other parents have it so much worse.”
She finally replied, “It’s bad . . . it’s okay to admit that it’s bad. You’re not doing him any favors sugarcoating it.”
Up until then no one ever had told me that. I’ll admit I was slightly offended at first. My automatic thought was “But my son is the sweetest. He is not a monster . . . he’s not the aggressive kid.”
That was (and still is) all true, but that doesn’t mean things don’t get hard. I realized then if I kept minimizing it and avoiding talking about it, how would I be able to help him? How would I be able to truly learn from others who have been on similar journeys?
I am grateful to you for saying that as it pushed me in the right direction—to open myself up and seek community. I don’t think I would be as involved in all of the amazing support groups I am in now. I have learned so much from all of them due to letting them in and it all started with that one thing you said.
A very humbled and thankful mom