I’ve spent this past week immersed in retail sales. Not for a major store, but running a middle school book fair. And “running” is a good way of putting it. I hustled from place to place all week. All in the name of books. My weakness. How could I not “run” the book fair? Since books have run me for a long time now. Maybe I’m getting older or just more reflective, because I have chaired this committee in past years, but this year I learned something I hadn’t keyed into before.
Aside from the “unwashed public” of teenagers and a few parents, I spent the majority of the time in the company of other moms chatting and sharing. And I realized something: each of us and our children have some type of special need. And not ‘special’ in the terms I have grown accustomed to in the “disabled” world. All of us have difficulties, failures, weaknesses and pain that should be attended to in a unique way.
I have written in past blogs about the words “special needs” and how much I loathe them for the negative connotation it brings out in my mind; well really for the plain fact Ryan has that label. However, I ‘m hoping my experience this week will allow me to stop hating that definition (as much) going forward. These moms reminded me that we all do whatever it takes for our children and family. Sacrifices: financial and emotional and all that we do as ‘mom’ to keep our families propelled forward and happy.
I heard stories from the mom who has to worry about her aging mom, or the mom who has to deal with her son’s chronic lung issues (and a cancer survivor herself), or the mom who lost her son, or witnessing the mom of a special needs child. (Who handled her child so differently than me, but that is another topic.) Then I heard about the “typical” kids who too have struggles of their own like Dyslexia, and ADD. Or even as simple as kids who are poor planners just suffer from plain ol’ forgetfulness. Every mom I spoke to is juggling and spinning plates, just like me. We all are fighting different types of battles to get to the same end: making sure everyone has their needs met.
So, I’m starting with me and going to change the perception of what ‘special needs’ really means; I will try to recognize that all of us and our kids have some issue that we need to handle in a distinctive manner. Then, maybe I could get society to not think of Ryan as singled out with his “special needs” but thinking he has his own “unique issues”; just like everybody else. That way my “special needs” guy isn’t that special after all. And I like that. A lot.