Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Inspiration/Mainstreaming Moms

I've been mulling over the subject of inspirational people ever since reading Jerry's blog entry from a few days ago on the subject.   I guess he felt some heat the day after writing this from his wife's friends who didn't quite agree with him -- I can't do a good job summarizing Jerry's point of view, so just click on those links...

Why did this strike a chord with me?   Don't I want folks--friends, relatives, strangers, etc. to be impressed and inspired by me?  Well---  I guess I would love that (who wouldn't?) but sometimes it is mixed with a kind of sympathy I don't want.  Usually, when someone says something genuine about how I'm a good parent it is ten minutes after I was a completely horrible parent--so I can't fully appreciate it.  

We special needs parents are just like the rest of you--really--we are.  Our kids are difficult/tough/trying/frustrating/exasperating.  But so are all kids.  We sacrifice a lot.  But so do all good parents. Our kids are the loves of our lives.  Just like yours.  Nothing feels as perfect as holding hands with either one of my boys--and mine still let me.  Perhaps I just want to be mainstreamed.  I don't want to be set aside in a special room; I want to be in the room with all the other parents.   There is enough about raising special needs children that is isolating--I always feel different in the store, different at school, different at church, different walking back from the bus stop because I'm the only mom on the street that has to walk my kids to the bus.  All the other kids can just walk down the block by themselves.  In the store my 11 year old acts like a three year old and I can feel the eyes on my back as I talk Joseph through the aisles...  "Yes, honey, I know you want to go that way, but we are going this way now.  Just wait honey, Mommy needs to look at this.  Oh, Joseph, you are doing such a good job being patient."   This the the public "Mother" voice I've created for Target and the grocery store.  If I say these soothing things a bit louder than I normally would, all the folks who hear Joseph making Joseph noises get the message that "This is a special needs kid, and the situation is under control.  Not to worry."  My "Mother" voice is as much for the strangers as it is for Joseph.  Maybe more so.  The examples of this are endless?  Does that make me an inspiration?  No more than the Mom whose child is getting straight A's 'cause she diligently read to him every night for six or eight straight years.  

I think the crux of it is that I would so much rather be a normal mom than an inspirational mom.  I'm not the Mom of "typical" kids.  I'm a special-needs mom.  But I'm still just a mom...  Mainstreaming is good for kids, and I bet it is good for Moms, too.  

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