Before Bridget I fell victim to cliches and platitudes. I thought I was showing empathy and compassion. I believed the words that left my mouth. I did not realize that when I gave my version of sympathy the mom of a child with disabilities heard something completely different.
When I said: I don’t know how you do it
I now hear: Phew, I don’t have her life
There seems to be a whole movement of what “not to say” to a parent with a child who has special needs. I choose not to buy into that feeling that everyone must watch what they say to me. (Except the “R” word, standing fast on that one).
Here’s the thing, telling a parent whose child has a disability that you don’t know how they do it is a lie. You’re a parent–you wouldn’t just leave the kid on the sidewalk. At least I hope not. You would step up and do whatever needs to be done to care for your child. I know that you would, like I do now, climb any mountain if it meant helping your child.
Your world would change, just as mine has, in ways unimaginable.
And that’s okay. It’s okay to think you couldn’t do this life. It is a difficult one. In truth, it is no more difficult than the life you are currently living. Maybe it is because I have the older almost-typical preteen it gives me perspective. Parenting the eye roll is just as difficult as parenting the head banging of the younger one.
Yesterday I babysat a six-month old, gorgeous princess. Who cried the entire time her mom was gone, unless she was sleeping snuggled in my arms. I couldn’t put her down. At some point I couldn’t make her happy. I thought to myself, how the heck does her mom get anything done? It hasn’t been that long since Bridget was a screaming bundle of baby clothes. Yet I felt as inept at comforting this infant as I did the first day in the NICU.
Life, it changes you. Whether your are sailing through it or struggling just to keep afloat, your life changes how you react.
Me? I’ve decided not to let the cliches bother me. Instead I choose to take them at face value. A person is trying to be kind. At the end of my day, that is what I need: Kindness.