Usually the first "comforting" thing I hear after I tell someone my son has Down Syndrome is, "Well, God only send special children to special parents."
So let's say my son didn't have a disability, would that make him any less special? Let's say I went up to any random parent and said, "you know God gave me this child because I'M a special parent," this would probably cause this other parent to think I am arrogant. But why? Because by looking at Gio you can't really tell he has Down Syndrome. So without explaining to someone that my son has a disability they don't know. Once I explain to someone Gio's situation they might agree that I am indeed a "special parent." However, I disagree 110%. I am no better a mom than any other mom I know, including my own. I make many mistakes, but like ANY other mom, I do what I believe is best for my child. It's honestly a little bothersome that people want me to feel special. What is so special about not being able to speak to my child? What's so special about knowing my son isn't "where he's suppose to be?" If someone could tell me what is so special about that maybe I would understand. I've been on both sides of this boat. My older cousin's son has Autism. He is 4 years older than Gio and when I saw all the things him and his wife went through when their son was born and as he grew up, I didn't for one second think to say "special kids are given to special parents." I tried to understand what they were going through and I did my best to treat my nephew equally as the other kids. He didn't get "special" treatment just because he is different. My cousin always respected me for that. So when I found out about my son's condition and people wanted to treat my son differently and be more lenient on him because they think he doesn't understand, my cousin was there to tell me that he understood and that I needed to let them know they can't do that. We talked about how people think they do us favors because they think they are being sympathetic to our situations, but they're not. You aren't doing us any favors by letting our children step all over you because you're scared to be too hard on them. Our son's need as much discipline and need to know there are boundaries, just like any other child. They need to know they cannot get away with whatever just because you want to call them "special." Our children are actually VERY smart and they will learn (mine has) to manipulate situations and people who think they deserve it because in a way you feel sorry for them. Once you look passed their disability, you'll see they are just like any other kid who will find a way to get their way. I don't want my son to grow up thinking he is entitled to certain treatment just because people don't think he is capable of understanding, or because they think he is "special."
I don't agree that because I face challenging circumstances in raising my child I am entitled to being considered "special." I don't understand why some people tell me, "I don't know how you do it" or "you're such a great mom" or "I don't know what I would do if I was you." You know what you would do? The same exact thing I'm doing because any parent would do anything for their child's well-being. You would take them to therapies and doctor's appointments and you would buy special vitamins or extra learning devices for them. You would make sure that at the end of the day that child knows they are loved and supported. Just like any parent of any child would. Doing these things doesn't make me an extra great mom. Growing up, I was always in the advanced classes. I was at the top of my class for the most part. I graduated with a 4.3 GPA; 8th in my class. I remember one time one of my teachers told my mom to stop pressuring me so much. I was a straight A student and deserved to slack off a little. My mom disagreed. She didn't believe I should do any less than what I am capable of just because I was ahead. Teachers had me labeled as "Gifted and Talented" and had me in that program. Slacking off would have created bad habits in me and my mom knew that. My mom always told me not to let my ego get too big just because teachers thought I was a good student. My mom made sure I stayed discipline. This is what I want to instill in my child. I want him to ignore what anyone around him says because I know what he is capable of. Gio is so smart and understands everything around him. I won't allow for people to make him believe he is "special" because he has a disability. Gio is special because he is Gio.
Don't get me wrong. I appreciate people trying to be nice and sympathize with the situation. But because of this misunderstanding, I am explaining the ignorance in this statement people so commonly use to make us "special" parents feel better. Maybe if this was something you said to EVERY parent it wouldn't feel so patronizing. I believe every parent who is willing to move mountains for their children is special. You don't have to pity a parent with a child with a disability. I know it looks hard, but it's what we know. This is normal for us. Of course there are very hard days and we ask "why" a lot. We wonder what will be of our kids as they get older. We wonder if we are making the right choices in accepting certain therapies or not. We look for any type of hope of a solution to our child's problem. Even on the worst days where everything goes wrong at the end of the day, we thank God that we were blessed with such a beautiful child that teaches us more about ourselves than we knew possible. The strength and wisdom we end up gaining can only be thanks to our children. Just like any parent who loves their child unconditionally, we hope that tomorrow will be better for them and we hope that they will earn the title of being "special" by what they accomplish in life not because of their disability.
“Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be and that, if you’re lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be. – Joan Ryan”