Since beginning my special needs journey, I’ve learned to adjust to the comments and actions of therapists, doctors, and other well-intended people. Therapists frequently remind me that the special needs journey is “not a sprint, but a marathon.” This makes sense and is usually a nice reminder. At well checks, I receive a paper handout of the quintessential milestones that my child should be able to do for his age. It’s as if the physicians completely forget that my child is disabled and delayed. Even worse though is when strangers say hello to my child and wait for his response. Since I live in the southeast region of the US where silence is taken for rudeness, I immediately blurt out that my child is nonverbal. However, through all of this, hearing – special needs children are given to special moms – is what drives me crazy.
God gives special needs children to special moms:
In the south, also known as the bible belt, God is often at the center of conversations. Therefore, it is typically stated or implied that God gives special needs children to special moms. It is also considered inauspicious to question God’s actions. However, I find myself wondering how a God who is so loving and forgiving could take away my child’s ability to do things that come so easily for others.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful beyond words that my son is here. And for the record, he is perfect in his own way. I just wonder why my son has to go through this hardship to begin with. If it is God who decides then why would He make my child suffer? Why make any child suffer? Is it because I’m special? No. In fact, it’s safe to say, Hell No! I know that God didn’t plague my son with Cerebral Palsy because I’m a “special” mom.
Maybe this phrase is said because disabled children are rare. The 2016 Disability Statistics Annual Report by the Institute on Disability, University of New Hampshire states that “less than 1.0%” of those under the age of 5 have a disability and only 5.4% for ages 5-17. Of those closest to me, I am the only one who has a child that would be considered disabled as defined by the United States’ Social Security Act, or any other law or stereotype which defines a severe disability.
It’s ok to not know what to say. However, provide me well wishes instead of saying that my child was granted Cerebral Palsy because I’m a special mom. Ask me questions. Just stop saying “special needs children are given to special moms.” After all, if special needs children were a badge of honor granted by God, fate, or some other higher power to those considered the most special moms then wouldn’t pregnant women claim to want a special needs child instead of a healthy baby?
Our world isn’t easily understood:
I know my perfect son was not given Cerebral Palsy because I’m a special mom. Though, I am beyond blessed to have him in my life in any manner God or fate saw fit to give me. He has forever changed me. He shows me love in a way I have never known before. Maybe it’s because showing love is his only way to communicate it. Knowing this, I will still continue to cringe every time I hear “special needs children are given to special moms.” I won’t be rude to the individual saying it though, and will even be kind enough to reserve my eye rolls for later.
I know those who say this are well-intended. They want to make us feel stronger and they want to feel united with us even for a brief second. However, the simple fact that exists is that our world is a world beyond their understanding. Despite good intentions, the comment brings greater isolation and intensifies my intrapersonal conflicts. For me, I will continue to work on my intrapersonal conflicts in hopes of a higher understanding. For those who have said this before, don’t worry about the past. I too said this once upon a time. However, moving forward, remember the phrase “special needs children are given to special moms” is a bullshit phrase designed only to make the one saying it feel better.