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The illusion of courage

One of the most prevalent misconceptions I have heard over the years as a mom to a daughter with extra needs is that somehow the accomplishment of making it through each day equates to better than average parenting skills. I will be the first to acknowledge that this is most certainly not the case. There are many areas in which I fall short.

One thing I am happy I did was to begin the blog. Much of it is out of self interest, allowing me to journal some of my thoughts and experiences along the way that most certainly would go undocumented otherwise. I go back and read older posts occasionally and find it therapeutic. Funny how even though I lived it all myself, reading my own words still offers a opportunity to savor a moment or remind me of lessons learned. I must credit my encouraging and loving friend Randi with the idea!

With all the positives I experience personally through writing and sharing, my ultimate goal was/is to offer other parents (extra needs or not) a feeling of connection and compassion. I have spent hours myself reading other’s words in an effort to discover that I am not alone, we are not alone, in our journey. To find the feeling that when it all seems to be too much, others have made their way through…surviving it all to realize a happy and productive life for their children.

With that goal in mind it is surprising to me and so frustrating, how difficult it can be to connect on a personal level in “real life”. Where it counts.

I took Virginia to the dental faculty practice at UNC the other day for an appointment. I saw a little boy that reminded me of Kimberly. First, in the waiting room, as his Aide brought him in seated in a modified stroller with some medical equipment on the side. He sweet face and little glasses caught my eye immediately. I thought it odd that a parent would send their child to a medical appointment without them…I found myself judging this family with NO knowledge of their situation. So unfair on my part and more hypocritical than I care to admit. As I struggled with that thought. The mom walked in and sat with them.

I found myself glancing over to them frequently. Knowing, sitting there with my typical developing 10 year old, my glances were being perceived much differently than I intended. I want to offer a non-verbal “your son is beautiful, I know your path, it will all be ok” but I did not know how. As we walked back and were taken to the exam room it happened to be right next to where the dentist was completing her exam with that same boy and discussing the situation with the mom. I heard bits and pieces…cavities, try to brush if you can, surgery, general anesthesia, not knowing how bad it is until they can X-ray during surgery….I really have walked their path I thought. I heard the fear in the mother’s voice. I have been exactly where she is and wanted to tell her. To say how that same dentist did a great job on our kimbo and how hard it was to wait, blindly, for over three hours
while they worked on my baby’s mouth. I just wanted to hug her.

I didn’t do any of the above. Nothing. I am still struggling with that. How is it that I can write about it all here, and yet allow myself to let that mother hold her fears and feel so alone?

I am not any stronger than the next mom, I don’t know any better than the next person. I fly blind every day. I cry often and have fears about today and tomorrow that I cannot even speak of. I wish more than anything though that I could have the courage to tell that mom “it’s going to be ok”. I wish someone had done that for me, provided me with an illusion of courage. Maybe then I could pass it along.

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  1. In the past couple years I have changed my outlook on parenting a little. Instead of saying..”mom’s have the hardest job,” I now say..”some moms.” Not every parent out there is trying their best. Not every parent, for the most part, is putting the needs of their children before their own. I’ve never met the perfect parent but out of the ones I have met lately, you included, they are truly inspiring and awesome:) Sorry you didn’t get to talk to this particular parent, but now you know for next time to do it differently:) As always I love reading your blogs!!

    • Thank you and yes, I hope I speak up next time. We are our own worst enemies in that regard. I appreciate the encouragement!

  2. It is so difficult to know what to do in these situations! Some moms might welcome that bright spot of reassurance and then again, some might feel uncomfortable with the intrusion. I do think that if any of us want to get better about making automatic judgments about others, we must first learn not to judge ourselves so harshly. You have the kindest, greatest heart in all the world, Dani.

    • I struggle with the uncertainty of the reaction I might get and find it crippling in those situations. Thank you for you kind words!!

  3. Don’t be hard on yourself. Your heart is in the right place. Maybe next time you will be able to offer support in person. I know for me when I’ve been in similar situations I hesitate to offer support for fear of a possible negative reaction. I think that’s natural, but even so I do get mad at myself for being afraid.

    • I know in my mind it is normal to be hesitant, but in my heart I want to help any way I can….thank you for your support!!

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