Continued from part two of Holland Just May Be Better than Italy
“Would you change your situation or children if you had a choice?”

Every time that some idiot ask me this question, I feel my temper flare. I continually have to remind myself that they are uninformed, uneducated, and ignorant to my situation. In fact, they are all of the above to anyone’s situation when raising a child with any form of disability. I’ve found over the years that I have more self-control than I give myself credit for; since somehow I manage to hold in my instinctual snooty retort to that question. Itching to pass between my lips is the first and only question that comes to mind when people ask me this question;

“If you’re asking this question of myself, then you’re saying that if you knew your child would be disabled you wouldn’t want them?”

I can’t apologize for the question that burns within me, because I truly and personally feel that when someone asks me this question, they are, in fact, stating that only perfect children are acceptable.

I realize that this might not be their intent when asking me such a foolish question. I also realize that some people reading this post will have issues with my thought process on why they are asking this particular question or how I interpret it as such. For anyone who is going to challenge my interpretation of this question, I have a question to ask of you.

“If you had a sick or disabled child and someone asked you this same question, how do you think deep within your heart and soul you’d interpret it?”

Think long and hard about this question before you automatically spit out your answer.

If you have healthy children, place yourself in my shoes before answering the question. If you do not have children, look deep within yourself and ask yourself this truthfully:

“If I found out today that I was going to have a child and that my child would have a disability what would I do?”

It’s easy to pass judgment on someone when you lack the experience of walking in their shoes. I know there are people in this world who want perfect children and wouldn’t think twice about aborting or abandon their child if they found out that they would have to deal with their child’s lifelong disability. So is it far-fetched for me to automatically assume that when people ask me this particular question that in reality what they are asking of me is this:

“If you knew while pregnant that your child was going to be disabled; would you have aborted it?”

Some of you may be asking yourself what I would have done if I had known ahead of time. The answer is – not a damn thing differently other than preparing myself ahead of time to live a life in Holland instead of Italy (figuratively speaking). Having children with disabilities and special needs have changed my life in so many ways, but I can honestly say that they have changed me and my family for the better.

Learning to adjust my life around raising special needs children has made me a better person, it has made me a much better mother and has helped me view the world through a new set of eyes. I have a better grasp on a vast assortment of issues that are wrong, people who discriminate, and judge those who don’t fall into the “standard” category of being “normal.” I have much more compassion in me than I used to, and that’s saying a lot considering how much I had as a child, which carried over into adulthood.

During my first experience with a support group, I heard a mother tell of a recent experience she had. She was able to laugh off the experience, whereas I felt the deep burn of disgust in the pit of my soul and a foul taste in my mouth. Please allow me to further elaborate on this in a few different aspects.

When I was a child, I was often referred to as an old soul. I always wanted to be with the adults; I always wanted to be that shadow sitting in the room taking in the experiences adults endured and shared among each other. I wanted to experience their trials and tribulations, their worries and heartaches, their triumphs and proud achievements.

At school I was always the first child to stand up against anyone who would dare pick-on, bully, physically or mentally hurt a student in my school who had a mental, or physical handicap. I had no issues standing up to the biggest and the worst students for the sake of defending those who could not defend themselves. I would associate this natural need to protect those who couldn’t with my life of being picked on, except the only person to ever pick-on me was my older sister. Pick-on might be too light of the word; she would kick the ever living gobstoppers out of me almost daily. While some people might say, that’s exactly where I managed to get my empathy from; I don’t see it that way. But I can see their point-of-view because I was little, and no one was there to stop her. So that did help me develop a sense of empathy and need for justice for those who couldn’t obtain it for themselves, but it was not the only reason.

From the time, I started school I was continually getting in the faces of those people who thought it was funny to pick-on, belittle and hurt those with individual needs. As I grew older and hit the age where friends and reputation begins to mean more to you among your school peers, I never faltered. If a classmate with a physical or mental challenge wanted to hang around with me, or dance with me at a school dance; friends and reputation be damned – I’d do it. If my friends had an issue with it, they knew better than to voice it out loud! It was no secret where my heart stood in regards to them versus making the day of someone special through small acts of kindness.

As I reached adulthood, I still stood my ground, as well as what I believed in, which reminds me of a friend I once had. She told me one day while I drove her home from work that she thought it was hilarious to laugh at children with Down syndrome and she went into great detail why this was so funny to her. I remember feeling my anger and rage building up as I listened to her idiotic logic. While I likely shouldn’t have said what I did, I couldn’t seem to help it at the time. I told her, while I would never wish a child born any other way other than perfect, “I wish that if there must be one born with Down syndrome that it is born to you. Maybe once you see how you can love a special needs child, and feel the hurt and agony a mother goes through when her child hurts; maybe then then you won’t find it so damn funny.”

 

I’ve always been a huge believer in Karma; you treat others the way you want to be treated. That those who do ill acts to others will have it returned in time; ten-fold. A lot of my body art represents this and the way I live my life also represents this in many aspects.

Getting back on track to the mother, I was talking about, the one where my blood boiled. She is a strikingly beautiful person both physically and in personality. She is single, so it doesn’t surprise me that men are continually hitting on her. One day a man asked her out on a date, and because the majority of her attention is being consumed with the care of her child who has unique needs, she doesn’t date. She told this (I’m sorry, but any other word wouldn’t do) asshole that she doesn’t date because of her disabled daughter.

(please note these are not exact words, but the best I can remember her telling them.)

He replied – “oh wait did you say you had a disabled child?”

She replied – “yes, I have a disabled daughter and cannot date.”

He replied – “You must have done something awful during your life for karma to give you a disabled child.”

She said all she could do was laugh at the idiot. While I sat across the table and said, “I’d have punched him square in the face for that comment.”

It disturbs and disgust me the falsehoods that people without children or with healthy children sometimes have about why some people have special needs children. Take me for instance, I have explained the empathy and protectiveness I have always felt for those who cannot defend themselves. As a mother, I have three children all with their own vastly different forms of special needs and disabilities. Karma being a bitch to me and getting me back for caring and trying to help others through providing me with three special children wouldn’t begin to make any sense.

The more open-minded people who have crossed my path, have viewed my children not as a punishment or burden; but as a blessing. They have said to me on multiple occasions “children with disabilities and special needs, need parents who are made of certain qualities. They need parents who will protect them and love them no matter what hardships they experience, and who will be their protector. Not everyone can, could or would raise these children properly, and that is why special people much like yourself have been hand-picked to raise these children.” Meaning all my compassion, love and protectiveness throughout my life was leading me up to where I am now, so I could properly raise my children. While I do concur with these sentiments, I have often asked myself why all three children? I lack the understanding of the whys and how’s of my situation, but over time I think I’ve learned to understand the majority of them better.

In a previous post, I asked the questions I always wondered;

“What is my purpose?”

“Why was I placed on this earth?”

“How will I leave my mark once I’m gone?”

 

I can only assume that it is through my children that these questions will find the answers I have sought for so long.

By raising my children to the best of my abilities, I have started slowly finding my answers. Loving them; caring for them, and ensuring they don’t think the world owes them a handout in life due to their issues has been my starting point. Raising them to contribute while being healthy, active members in society and not a burden to it – is another aspect. Walking each step, challenge, discrimination and adversity beside them has helped them as much as it has me. Struggling daily with them while they learn to function in a society that has not completely embraced them has opened my eyes and heart up wider than I ever thought was possible.

Oddly enough, their mental or physical issues have brought us closer as a family instead of ripping it apart. They have helped my husband, and I stay strong together and co-parent together flawlessly, all the while opening our lines of communication and building a solid foundation for us to stand on together and grow together. Our two oldest children have become close best friends, always helping one another and being thoughtful towards the other. They are definitely not your average or normal teenagers slash siblings. They are respectful, helpful; honor roll at school and both are extremely protective of their younger much sicker brother.

To say that if given a chance I’d change my children, so they never were born with disabilities, is to me like saying I don’t love them the way they are. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do I accept them the way they are; I think I understand them more; I can relate to them more and know for sure that I love them more than if they were born “normal.”

My children and their unique needs have made me a better person, woman, wife, and mother and I’d never change any of that or them for the world.