Last week I had a doctor’s appointment. Same practice but new practitioner – so of course that leads to a game of 100 questions. I try to give the cliff notes version of my medical history for the last five years – which includes (as brief) a rundown (as possible) of the kids – which is always entertaining because even doctors (especially ones that aren’t Gavin’s direct docs) aren’t sure how to ask questions when it comes to Gavin and Spencer.
When they ask about Spencer, they want to be direct, but not rude. Unfortunately there’s no real PC way to say, “so hey, is your other son “normal?” or “Did you know that Gavin was going to have CP?” Sometimes I take mercy on them and answer all questions at once – but sometimes, I don’t and I make them squirm (payback for long wait time!)
Anyway, this new doctor was generally interested in my life and family and how we make things work. Either we’re more of an anomaly than I thought or she hasn’t had much exposure to special needs families. In either case, we get on with the appointment and at the end she said something that has stuck with and bothered me since Friday: “You are a supermom. You’re an inspiration and I am in awe of you. Truly, I am very impressed by you. You seem so calm with all that goes on in your life.” I KNOW when she and others say things like this – it’s coming from a good place but to be honest it doesn’t leave me in a good place. I feel as if I have been put on some pedestal – one I clearly do not belong on.
At the time I smiled and said “thanks” – honestly not sure what else to say, but having had time to think on it. I’m not. There is nothing inspirational or impressive about me and what I do. And “supermom” is a label I am extremely uncomfortable with. I don’t feel worthy of such a title.
First, to comment on how calm I am seems a little unfair. The reality is there is nothing calm about me or my life. But lets be real, no one sees me behind closed doors and since I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve you’ll never see how much I hurt or how much I want to curl up into a ball and never move. Or how incredibly lonely it is being a special needs parent. No one wants to hear that part of our story.
When someone says that I am an inspiration or a super hero/mom, ALL I can think about are all the short comings I feel as a parent. Seriously, if anyone ever saw how many times I lose my sh*t in a day, I’m pretty sure that would be the LAST term they would to describe me. Or the fact that I continually have the feeling that I am failing Bailey and Spencer because Gavin needs so much more of my time, and while I wish it were otherwise, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. While I fight for all three of my kids, the reality is that I fight harder and louder and longer for Gavin because I have to. Until he finds his voice I am there to speak for him. We help Bailey and Spencer to articulate their voices since they are still so young, but trust me they have them and are using them, daily (and loudly).
As special needs parent I constantly live with one foot on the banana peel while juggling one too many balls – just waiting for fate/life to pull the rug out from underneath the other foot. I think a lot of special needs parents would likely agree.
So, I would simply ask this: let’s try to refrain from using the term “super parent” (again trying to be PC). We are ALL amazing parents – trying to do the best we can for our kids/families. Don’t put any parent on a pedestal because at some point that person isn’t going to live up to YOUR expectations of a “super parent” or “inspiration” (remember we’re all human) and they will fail you. The fall from that pedestal will hurt them far more than it will hurt you. Let’s just agree that we are all kick ass parents doing the best that we know how and leave it at that.