Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Different Path

I recently posted something on Facebook that caused quite a stir. The Your eCard pics have been showing up all over Facebook and Pinterest. I think the majority of them are quite hysterical; however, there was one I saw recently on Pinterest that said, "I hear you. Raising kids & running a house keep me busy too. I also have this little gig on the side called a full time job." I realize that humor is subjective, but I found this quite offensive. I felt that it was derogatory and belittling to stay at home moms. A friend mentioned a bumper sticker that she saw which said, "You've never worked unless you've been a stay at home mom." To me this is just as derogatory and belittling to working mothers. Making someone feel like less of a mother or less of a woman based on working status is just simply wrong. Many women, if given the choice, would gladly trade places. I have several family members and friends who would give anything to be able to stay at home with their children, but circumstances simply don't allow for it. Unfortunately, I think some women are bitter and resentful towards those who are afforded that opportunity. The same holds true for some stay at home moms, though. Not every stay at home mom wishes to stay home. They too are sometimes forced to do so by circumstances beyond their control. I've met a few woman who were forced to give up their careers. Ironically, some of these women are also bitter and resentful towards women who are able to work outside the home.

I've never understood why women feel the need to prove they are better than one another. It happens all too often though, especially when it comes to bearing and raising children. For example, there are some women who believe they are better than others simply because they were able to deliver their children via natural childbirth instead of a Cesarean section. Once again, I'm sure given half the chance, many women would gladly trade places with each other if circumstances allowed it. The whole point of my original post on Facebook was that women need to stop trying to prove that they are better than one another and simply support each other. Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs and therefore we each need ALL the support we can get.

Through the course of the "debate" that resulted from my original post, a comment was made that I seem to think that I have it harder than others. At first I was extremely offended by this, but after some careful reflection, I can see how it might sometimes come across that I feel that way. I assure you, I do not. I simply face different challenges than the average parent given the fact that I do have a special needs child. While most parents are busy chauffeuring their children to a multitude of extra curricular activities, I instead am chauffeuring my son to a multitude of doctors appointments and therapy sessions. It's not necessarily harder, just different. Also, while the average parent is busy helping their children with homework, instead my husband and I are busy trying to help our son learn how to simply communicate. Again, not necessarily harder, just different.

Parenting a special needs child has it's own unique challenges. Milestones are different. Dreams for your child's future need to be altered. Sometimes, extreme lifestyle changes need to be made. Each of us has our own journey to make in this lifetime and as a result, we often take different paths. The reality is that for some that path is, in fact, harder in some ways than others. It doesn't make that person any better than anyone else, just different. That being said, truth be told, my path has been a bit harder than some.

My road to motherhood was a lot bumpier than that of most of my friends and family. In all honestly; however, I am extremely grateful that very few of my friends and family share in my experiences. Infertility sucks. Threatened miscarriage is not pleasant in the least. Delivering a baby that is just barely viable is extremely terrifying. The NICU can be a complete nightmare. Losing a child, in my opinion, is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a parent. It leaves your heart and soul scarred for life. (Unfortunately, I've experienced that loss from another perspective given the fact that I've also lost my parents.) Miscarriage, no matter how far into the pregnancy, is heartbreaking. Raising a child who is on the Autism Spectrum can be very daunting. I realize the fact that I don't hide any of these things can sometimes come across as me drawing attention to myself and alluding to my life being harder; however, I don't share all of my experiences to garner pity. I do so in an attempt to reach out to others and hopefully help them to realize that they are not alone.

Infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss are all taboo topics. People are uncomfortable talking about them and as a result too many people suffer in silence. I myself am not even able to talk to my closest family members about my daughter or my miscarriage because they just don't know how to cope with either subject. In addition, there are still a multitude of misconceptions surrounding Autism and as a result parents often don't know where to turn to for support. I know I am only one person but it is my hope that by being vocal about all of these topics, I will be able to help in some small way. If I'm only able to reach one person and help them to feel less alone in this world, then my mission is complete. I am not any better or worse than anyone else. I simply have a different path to follow and I am trying to do so with as much dignity and grace as I can, unfortunately as my mother would often remind me, Grace is not my middle name. Sometimes I unintentionally say or do things that hurt or offend others. I apologize. I am simply trying to be the best woman, wife, mother, sister, cousin, and friend that I can be. I had the absolute best role model in the whole wide world and I can only hope that as she watches over me from Heaven, she is proud of the woman and mother I have become.

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