I see you staring at our loud family sitting at the table. I see your judging eyes when our differently-abled son whines and yells for me to hold him. I see you dart your eyes quickly when I look up because I feel the stares.
I see the judgment when I finally give in and pick him up. I see it when he starts to push his knees into my chest and hit me because he’s frustrated. I know those eyes are thinking, “That mother needs to discipline her child.”
I see it all the time, and it is unfair.
What you don’t see is that our son can’t verbally communicate what he wants or needs. That is why he whines and yells. You don’t see that the only way he can tell me what he wants is to point and say “eh.” You just see what you want to see.
What you don’t see is that yes he is two, but developmentally he is still just a baby. He doesn’t have the self-control like his older brother and typical growing children have.
What I wish you would see is this mom is trying. This mom is doing everything in her power to keep calm, and keep from crying. What I wish from you all is empathy.
Before casting those judging eyes, show a little compassion. Put yourself in the mother’s shoes before assuming that the mother doesn’t discipline her child. Don’t assume that she doesn’t know how to raise her child.
Because I do know how to raise my children.
But with differently-abled children, you don’t have this perfect and complete manual on how to parent. With a differently-abled child, you write a manual as days and weeks go by. YOU figure out what’s best for your child, and what works for your child…
But with differently-abled children, you don’t have this perfect and complete manual on how to parent.
And you jot that down in your unique manual. Inch-stone after inch-stone, tantrum after tantrum, and day after day, you work on it. You painstakingly add to it. And then, what they were able to do last week might not be there anymore, and so you edit your manual again.
That is our life as a Special Needs Parent with a differently-abled child. Our manual, our life, is always changing. Just when you think you have normalcy down, another curve ball gets thrown your way… and once again, you’ll have to update the manual again. It is what an author may call an unfinished master piece.
So, the next time you see a mother at her wits end—don’t give her those judgmental eyes. Give her empathetic eyes, or even offer some help or encouraging words. She is doing her best. She’s been thrown an imperfect manual, and she’s doing extremely well with what she’s got.