Wednesday, July 22, 2009
NOT HEROES, HUMANS
I was talking to a friend of mine whose sister has a 13-year-old daughter with Down's Syndrome. "You two should sit down together, you are both talking about the same things, how hard this passage is, and how most people just don't get it."
Apparently my friend's sister, we'll call her J., was being praised by a born-again Catholic. He was extolling her virtues. "I'm so proud of your decision to go ahead with a pregnancy in which you knew you were carrying a Down's Syndrome child." Blah, blah, blah he went on, and as he did, J.'s temperature rose. Unable to contain it one more minute she said, "Make no mistake, I am pro-choice. We knew that no matter WHAT we decided, our lives would never be the same. We made the choice we felt WE could best live with, but it's a hard choice. Everything about this is hard. You have no idea HOW hard it is."
And on her good days J. can tell you how much she has learned from raising her special needs daughter, how she's a better person, how she views the world differently, and how her other children will know a kind of compassion and understanding beyond their years.
And on her bad days she will tell you how embarrassing it can be. How taking her daughter into new and unfamiliar situations can drive her to drink, how tired she is of the "toddler years," and how there are days she begs of God, why me?
You see, we special needs parents are just humans, not heroes.
The next time you see one of us struggling with, or enjoying the hell out of our special needs child(ren) in public, smile, and give us our humanity.
(Photo of STM and Rojo looking for drinking fountains. Again.)