An Open Letter to Moms of “Typical” Kids

Dear Moms of “typical” kids,

I’m writing this letter because I want you to know a few things about how it feels to be a special needs mom in what feels like a world of moms with typical kids. I want to clear the air on a few things that I think might be weighing on all of our minds. But mostly, I want you to hear a few things from my heart that I’ve been thinking for the past year following  my son’s autism and subsequent diagnoses.

Mostly I want you to know that I see you.  I can see you hesitate when you are about to celebrate one of your child’s accomplishments in front of me, wondering if it will make me sad because my son may never be able to do the things your kid does every single day. I can see the exhaustion in your eyes as we chat over coffee and you tell me about your kid’s behavior issues at school, but then you pull back because you know whatever is going on in your world could never be like what we’re going through.

coffee

I can feel your stress while you are planning that birthday party, thinking carefully about every detail and worrying about how much it’s all going to cost, but then not sharing it all with me because you know my son may never have a birthday party with friends because it’s too sensory-overwhelming for him. And then I hear the uncertainty in your voice as you invite my kid to that birthday party with a few important caveats- only if he’ll be comfortable, don’t feel like you have to come, it might be too much, you totally won’t hurt my feelings. I can almost reach out and hold your embarrassment when you talk about how expensive something is, and then you remember how much we are paying for therapy and a special therapeutic preschool and for medical testing. I can hear it in your voice when you won’t tell me how tired you are because you aren’t sure if our son has been sleeping lately.

jo

I don’t know what it’s like to raise a neurotypical kid because I’ve never done it, but I want you to know something- your struggles and your feelings are valid. Just because your child doesn’t have a long list of diagnoses or spend the majority of his day in therapy doesn’t mean that your version of motherhood is easier than mine. It’s just hard in a different way.

And while I value your sensitivity to my situation and your questions about my son’s development, I want you to know that I think about your kids and I want to know about the challenges you are facing and the things you are celebrating. It helps me to feel less alone. It helps me to realize that all moms struggle no matter what their circumstances. It helps normalize my motherhood experience. So please, please don’t stop talking to me about your fears and your challenges and the awesome things your kids are doing. I want to hear them because I care about you and I care about your kids. Please keep talking.

And it’s okay if you don’t really know how to react when I talk to you about my kiddo. Just like I’ve never raised a neurotypical kid, you probably haven’t raised one with autism, mixed receptive expressive disorder, and sensory processing disorder. When I text you to tell you that my almost 4-year-old was able to leave the house without lining up all of his cars, I want you to celebrate like it’s the most awesome thing you’ve ever heard.

cars

And when I call you to talk about how exhausted I am because we haven’t slept in three days or because we’ve discovered some new issue to add to the list of all the other things, I just want you to listen. You don’t have to solve all of my son’s problems. Actually- you can’t solve his problems- nobody can. I want you to keep inviting him places and understanding when I tell you it’s beyond his capacity. And I want you to be okay with saying that you aren’t sure what to say or that you aren’t sure what it must feel like to walk in our shoes.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want you and your kids to stay in our lives. I value you, I value your experiences, and I want you to do your version of motherhood as freely as I do mine. We’re all in it together, and I want to walk in your journey with you as you walk my journey with me.

To doing motherhood together-

Mandy

, , , , , ,

10 Responses to An Open Letter to Moms of “Typical” Kids

  1. Emily July 15, 2015 at 9:32 am #

    Wow, thank you so much for this post!

    • Mandy
      Mandy July 15, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

      Thanks for reading Emily!

  2. Missy July 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    Yes!! As a mom of an ASD/SPD kiddo I know exactly what you mean. I want other moms to know that I don’t think my struggles are any more important/harder than theirs; they are just different. We all are just trying our best and it’s important for us support each other because let’s face it being a mom is a pretty tough gig.

    • Mandy
      Mandy July 19, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

      Exactly! We are all in it together! Motherhood is hard enough without drawing lines based on our children’s abilities. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Brenna July 19, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    Thank you for your comments and insight. I’m glad there are moms out there who want to be supportive no matter what and want others to do the same, seems many moms lose track of what is important. Just moved back to BR and can’t wait to find a way to meet other moms.

    • Mandy
      Mandy July 19, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

      Welcome back to Baton Rouge! I think it’s easy to get caught up in our own little situations and forget that we all face challenges!

  4. Jennifer July 22, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

    Such a beautiful post! It brought tears to my eyes because of the sincere expression of inclusiveness. I just wish we lived closer so that I could share in your journey. I guess that’s the beauty of these interwebs 😉

    • Mandy
      Mandy July 23, 2015 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks Jennifer! Such a sweet comment. We’ll definitely need to be internet buddies 🙂 love it!

  5. Cyd July 23, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    Beautifully written, Mandy – too many autism mom articles are written from the “Woe is Me” perspective, but in the end our kids are all beautifully different – and we all struggle as moms to be the best parent to them that we can be. I’m raising one neurotypical child and one with autism, and they each challenge me in their own way. Thanks for giving voice to this!

    PS – I, too, have countless photos of lined up cars littering my cell phone. 😉

    • Mandy
      Mandy July 29, 2015 at 10:00 am #

      Thanks for your encouragement Cyd- I agree, it’s easy to hop on the “woe is me” train! Hopefully we can all have a little more grace for each other! And oh the cars….so many cars!

Leave a Reply