It never fails that when we go out as a family, we are the ones that normally bring a lot of attention, not because we are any one of the celebrities that hog up internet space with their vapid existence, but we are a family that has special needs children. With having special needs as part of our family routine, often enough, we are the ones that turn heads, not because we want to, but because we have a dynamic that the rest of the world isn't use to.
On the outside we have learned to get used to the looks of sympathy or the whispers being said. We are even getting good at coming up with some pretty snappy comebacks to those who feel we need a talking to, in regards to our very awesome and spectacular parenting skills. But what happens to us on the inside? A lot of us parents, are hurting inside. We are reeling from the cruelty of the outside world. All those hurtful comments and whispers pile up. Those stares and looks are engrained in our brains and at the end of the day when we have our five minutes to ourselves, shortly after we have taken the long time to put our loved ones to bed, every thing comes back to haunt us. As much as we try to educate those who willing to learn and those who aren't, we still can't shake off the perception that the outside world has of our family. A lot of us just want to scream about how it isn't fair to be judged so mercilessly and that we wish that all those who have, could just for once learn what it means to walk in our shoes.
Have the Ultimate Special Needs Experience! Its not going to be like a ride at Disney or an IMAX feature. It would tapping into what makes them a decent human being. Opening up their hearts and minds to something that is different from their norm. It would be sleepless nights of worry or a loved one that doesn't sleep. It would trying to get back and forth from daily errands, like grocery shopping, with having to manage a person who needs a little extra time.They would have to go on outings like restaurants, parks and possibly a pool and deal with people staring as their loved one attempted to fit in with the rest of the world, all while having no control over their own bodies. They would have to go to doctor appointments, sit there and listen to the doctor tell them not so great news about the person they love, try to get home and process everything. They would have to argue with a school administration that their loved one has potential but just learns differently. The sad part is, this not even remotely half of what it means to be part of "That Family".
For us the caregivers, it weighs very heavily on our hearts and minds when we deal with everything society throws at us. There isn't a person on this planet that wants to be subjected to ridicule on any kind of level, which is why when it is pointed out to us publicly just how different our family is to yours, why it hurts us inside when society can't accept difference and diversity.
It doesn't matter for most of us how much we promote and educate what is dear to our heart, we will always be "That Family". People are always going to comment and or stare. We will always have that sympathetic vibe following us. But in reality, we don't sympathy or the God will only give you what you can handle talk. In reality, what we want, is not to be "That Family". We want to be accepted like every other family that has children. A family that looks like they love each other.
I know that there are people who are kind and respectful when it comes to special needs. Wading through the comments and stares, we find those decent human beings. It's those people who take the hurt out of our hearts. They remind us that not everyone is judgmental.
So I guess if we are going to be "That Family", the ones who love each other or the one that shows the world that even though there are differences, we still accept each other for who we are or the one that operates as a family unit in the best way we know how, then so be it. At the end of the day, when it is quiet, we can lament on what it means to take what life throws at us and handle it the best way we know how. We know it isn't going to be easy, life isn't easy. Its hard work but at least we have each other to get through the toughest of times. And that is what it means to be part of "That Family".