I saw you the other day.
You were taking deep breaths while other people were staring and smirking at you. They whispered comments under their breath about how you need to discipline your child. Some didn’t whisper, but loudly commented about how they’d parent if that was their child as they walked by in disgust.
You kept breathing, speaking in hushed tones to your beloved, special child. A tear fell out of the corner of your eye as you tried to navigate your baby, who is now nearly as big as you, through the chaos of the store, helping her feel safe when the lights and sounds and smells were overwhelming her senses like bombs going off inside her head.
You gently held her face and her eyes looked away while her body flung wildly and her voice grew louder. You long desperately for her eyes to look back at yours, to show that she understands that you’re in this together.
You still feel the stares of strangers boring through your back like daggers, “How is she going to manage this one?” “What’s wrong with that child?!” “I bet it was vaccines.” “If only she didn’t feed her processed foods.”
Their daggers are filled with judgment and stab your heart. You long to shout back, “She isn’t like YOU! She’s NOT your child! I DO EVERYTHING I SHOULD!” but you know it doesn’t matter. People say stupid things because they don’t know. They’ve not walked this road.
But you’re walking it. You’re walking it day in and day out, 24/7 and will continue to walk it as long as you have the privilege to.
That’s right, you count it a privilege to be your baby’s Momma, because while there are days like today, oftentimes many times in a day, your baby is special and so dearly loved.
Those people? They don’t see what you do in your beloved child. They don’t get the privilege of laughing at the unique habits and quirks that bring absolute joy to your baby; their gift for organizing their toys by height and color or how they can immerse themselves so deeply into a character that you can go a year before they allow you to call them by their given name. They don’t get to feel the depth of satisfaction when your baby reaches a goal she wasn’t “supposed” to meet. They don’t get to come home to “surprises” that were left for them in love from a child who isn’t “supposed” to be able to connect emotionally.
Momma, YOU are doing a fantastic job. Your job is really hard. You are fighting for your child to succeed. You are advocating. You are defending. You are teaching. You are LOVING your child.
On those days you may be crying out, “Why did God choose me?!” you can rest in the knowledge that your child, the one who is stretching you to the brink, who, even though she can’t express it with her mouth, knows that you, and the heart, soul and strength that makes up who you are, YOU were chosen for her. And that makes her feel safe and loved.
And Momma? You are a gift.
I am sorry that you have been judged. I am guilty of looking on and thinking “I know better.” Now I do know better because I see that YOU have gifts and talents and depths of patience and self-control that I do not and I am learning from you.
Mommas of specials? Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep showing us what it looks like to love hard, to love deep and by all means, to love with determination. People are watching.