This will be a really busy week for me. Not stressful or hectic, but definitely busy. As I reflect over all the things I’m currently doing, planning, preparing or arranging, it reminds me how Un-Special I’m being. And that makes me really happy!
Sometimes being a special needs mom can become more than just a hat that I wear, but a label that is branded on my heart. In the past, that label has caused me to feel like an alien walking on a planet of unfamiliar creatures. Because my situation is unique, and one that most other people around me can’t even imagine, I am prone to believe I am completely unlike anyone else. That can be dangerous.
Over the years, I have run into other special needs moms who walk around in another dimension. They don’t connect with friends or participate in any “regular” activities. When I would encounter them I’d think, “well they’ll chat with me, I’m special too” but they didn’t. Our children were both at the same doctor’s waiting room, but because our kids were very different, I wasn’t credited as a peer. I began to recognize the danger of walking that thin line between embracing the circumstance and becoming the circumstance.
It wasn’t until I had a chance conversation with a lovely lady at church that my perspective fully changed. This beautiful woman was frazzled. She was at a crisis point in her life – facing a very unique and difficult issue with a teenage daughter that I had no way to relate to. She said, “you see, you can’t understand being in my shoes. No one can and that makes this so hard”. At the utterance of that sentence, it was like fireworks went off in my brain. How many times had I said the same thing?? I saw it for the first time as an outsider and realized in that moment that she and I were the same. We shared something so deep. Us and God were the only two people who could relate to us. So although our situations were night and day different, we were in the exact same place! We had been isolating ourselves because no one could understand. But I could completely understand her, and she me, because we had each dealt with one-of-a-kind heartache, disappointment, and challenges.
What does this have to do with my really busy week? Well most of my busy-ness this week has to do with preparing to go and do a lot of “regular” girl stuff! Activities for the masses of “typical” women who don’t have special needs children (including WOMANITY women’s conference in Miami! link in right hand column). And while doing my packing and preparing, I contemplated my next blog post and pictured the special moms who might read it. At first I saw the two groups – special moms and the ladies at the conference I will be attending, as two different sets of people. And then I realized, every woman (at least once you get to my age) has experienced one of those unique, one-of-a-kind, circumstance in her life. We are all the same. Most ladies just compartmentalize it, and move back into the general flow of typical women. They will attend the conference, or go to a jewelry party, or join the PTA, as a regular person. But us special moms have a harder time being normal. Maybe because we’ve worked so hard to embrace our circumstance that we have accidentally become inseparable from it? Maybe it’s just because our special circumstance happens to be a living, breathing, person who is glued to our side more securely than our own shadow?
Whatever the reason, I realized special moms need this reminder more than most: Please be un-special! Please fight the urge to avoid “regular” women or friendships. Make sure you are doing the occasional activity that’s just aimed at the mass audience of general women. And when you participate, don’t sit off in a corner, being your own sub-category. Just be normal. It might be uncomfortable at first to be a “non-special” (forgive the 30 Rock reference, I love Tina Fey).
Whatever your unique or special circumstance is today, I pray that you are mindful of being un-special too. No matter what challenge you face or wound that you carry, you are promised the same thing that I am promised:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
That makes us all the same…waiting for these “things” to work for our good. With a hope and a promise, we can be brothers & sisters in our uniqueness.
I don’t normally put pictures of myself on here (I’m really not a selfie girl) But appropriate for this post, AND the upcoming women’s conference, are these two pictures of me being un-special. Here’s me with some of my very best girlfriends doing really normal stuff!
Important note: This idea of “Un-special” has been at the front of my mind lately, because my friend Bev Linder has just published her book titled “Un-Special Needs”. It’s now available on Amazon and is one of the most wonderful volumes of reality-check reading I’ve ever experienced! If you are a special needs mom, or you have a friend with a special needs child, please check it out. (also linked in the right hand column).