I read a reposted tweet the other day that really struck a nerve with me. The original poster tweeted that she, as a person with chronic illness, was tired of being the example for others of what they should be thankful for: i.e., she was their example of 'things could always be worse.'
After the month we've had with my own health, and things we're dealing with with the kids, and how sick and tired I am of hearing how wonderful and strong I am (I promise you, I just might throat punch the next person who tells me what a strong mom I am--excuse me? Just because I'm raising my boys? Three kids with special needs? Get over it.), that repost just about broke me. Okay, it did break me. It was truly on point. I'm tired of hearing people thank God their kid "isn't like that," after seeing a child on the spectrum, or thanking God they don't struggle with their health the way some people do. I understand not everyone means it the way I take it, but I am tired of hearing it. There but for the grace of God go I, you know? We could all have it worse, but why use someone else's life as your example of it?
That's not the kind of example my kids and I are here to set. We're not here to make you grateful for what you have, or what you don't have. I'm not here to qualify as the shining example of motherhood merely because my children have neurological and learning disorders. There are times I want to break down and not be strong--but dammit, I'm a strong mother, so I can't, right?!? My kids and I, we are who we are, and we muddle through. We make the best of things, and do our best, because very honestly--being negative about it doesn't help. It makes things worse. Yes, there are times we get caught in a negative spin, but we work our way out of it. Yes, there are times I'm completely overwhelmed, but I dig my way out. I begged for these children, and I love them dearly. I will do everything in my power to make sure they get everything they need that will help them. I want my children to grow up fighting. And this is how God made us, so acceptance is key: There's a reason for this.
I'm dedicated to my kids just the same as you are. If our situations were reversed, you would work just as hard, if not harder, for your kids, as I do mine. Being the mom of kids with special needs doesn't guarantee me super powers, it doesn't automatically make me strong(er), and it doesn't make me any better than you.
My kids are just like your kids. Different, but the same. Having a diagnosis or two doesn't make them inspirational or an example of anything, good or bad. They're just regular kids.
My rap sheet of autoimmune illnesses doesn't mean you should count your lucky stars you aren't like me. It doesn't mean I want your sympathy or pity.
The example we are here to set is for those coming along behind us. The moms, the kids, and those with chronic illness like me--we are foraging the way for them. We are setting the example that it is what is, but it isn't what it has to be. Don't settle for anything less than a stellar life! THAT, my friends, is the example we are here to set! When we are strong and inspirational, it is for the families and moms coming after us, who need the way paved for them. The ones who need to see success, and who need to see that yes, it can be done. When we are strong and inspirational, it's for those parents and kids who need a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other when all they want to do is give up.
And on the days I'm not so strong? It's so those moms know they have a friend they can count on when they aren't so strong. And it's so, should my own children raise children like themselves, they know they can come to me when they aren't feeling so strong, too.