Tonight I got out for a little while alone to get my eyebrows waxed. The girl doing the waxing started making small talk and the conversation came around to my kids. She asked me “do they go to school?” and whatnot. I told her yes, my son goes to a special ed preschool and likely my daughter will this fall.
She inquired as to why and then I explained that Aaron and Scarlet are both on the autism spectrum. That my son goes to a special preschool to get the services he needs and loves it. I told her how he lights up when he sees his teacher. I smiled and spoke with excitement and happiness as I said this.
Then I got “I’m sorry’d”
I’ve gotten it before many times and it bothers me. I know people don’t know what to say and then say the wrong thing. I have put my foot in my mouth before. This girl took it to a whole new level:
“Oh my God! I am so sorry, Courtney. How awful is that! Do they even talk? Will they ever be normal? I cannot even imagine how awful that would be. Did you know when you were pregnant? Is your youngest child at least normal or does he have it too? Hopefully he will end up being healthy.”
Stunned. Speechless. Dumbfounded. Why? I should be used to this by now. I explain how awesome they are and what a joy it is to be their mom. I try my best to answer questions in a way that helps educate her a little and let her know that I don’t need pity. I tell her cute things they have done that cracked me up lately. Unabated, she continues, “I have a good friend who has a son with autism. I feel so sorry for you and for her. It’s just awful.” (Seriously? Do you say this stuff to her? Are you sure she’s still your friend?)
Here’s the thing, and let me be really clear:
I’M NOT SORRY.
I’m not sorry to be lucky enough to be Aaron, Scarlet and Owen’s mother. It is my life’s greatest gift and an honor. Full of challenges? Yes, but worth every moment.
There is no such thing as normal. Sorry to burst your bubble. We are all dealing with issues, maybe they don’t all have a name or a diagnosis. Every single person, adult and child, struggles with something. Some have a diagnosis of some kind, some don’t.
I don’t need your sorrow or pity. Is it hard? Yes. Parenting is hard. Life is hard sometimes. Throw in special needs or medical issues and it gets even tougher. I do what we all do. I show up and I love my kids and do everything possible for them. I try to make things as comfortable for them as possible so they are not afraid or overwhelmed. I love them unconditionally.