In the years that I raised Nate, there were moments when I felt that I didn’t fit in with other moms. I felt as if these mothers could not relate to my life of raising a child with special needs. They didn’t understand my experiences or share in my struggle, or even sympathize with me, because our lives as mothers were completely different.
When I looked at these moms, they didn’t have the cares, concerns, and worries of raising a child with special needs. We couldn’t share birthing stories, because they had “normal” and “uncomplicated” births, whereas my son’s birth was filled with chaos and disorder. They didn’t understand the feeling of not holding your child after birth, because he was ushered away. And they didn’t know of the pain of being discharged from the hospital, while your child remained in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for weeks after birth.
Those moms had milestones that were completely different from mine. Their child’s development coincided with baby books and magazines. They knew how their child was to develop and at what age. I didn’t have that luxury, as I had no idea about Nate’s development and no book could show me. I couldn’t share the first time Nate walked, because he did not walk until after he was 4 years old. And I couldn’t tell them Nate’s first words, because he never learned to talk.
So, with this belief, I felt awkward around these mothers. I inwardly shunned them, believing that there was nothing for me to add or say. What could I contribute, or share? My son’s therapy sessions? Or his most recent doctor appointment? I didn’t want to talk about those things. So, I settled with the belief that I didn’t fit in with these moms.
Or…. Did I fit in?
It took me a while, but I eventually learned that my belief of not fitting in was wrong. Yes, WRONG! This boundary or barrier that I had created was false.
Actually, I did fit in!
Fitting in with other moms isn’t based on a child having special needs or not. It isn’t about comparing a child’s development versus another. It shouldn’t be to boast of what one child can do and what another child can’t. No, not at all!
What I realized is that fitting in with other moms is about sharing the joy of being a mother and parenting a child. It’s about learning from one another, while sharing parenting experiences. It’s about helping the next mom, by encouraging and inspiring one another. And lastly, it is about growing together as mothers.
Once I understood these very facts, I was able to have wonderful connections with moms. These connections were not based on having children with special needs, but the fact that we were both loving moms, who were graciously parenting our children.