Last week I went through a rough spot with my son at school. The details of the situation aren’t important. What is important is that it left me devastated.
The details don’t matter because, from the day my son was born nearly eight years ago, there have been constant situations. His life has been one, big struggle and therefore, my life with him has been as well.
In the midst of last week’s ordeal, I was shooting off an e-mail and made a statement about how having a child like my son is “such a challenge.” The person to whom the e-mail was sent, responded by saying that “all parents feel challenged” and that “I am not alone.”
I understand she was reaching out. I understand she was trying to make me feel better. Misery loves company, after all. The problem is that I do feel alone.
My son is different. He is unlike any other child I have ever known. I have had experiences as a parent that most people never will.
All parents know what it’s like to get up with a baby in the middle of the night, but how many moms had to feed their baby every three hours, round the clock for thirteen months? And, it took an hour and a half at a time just to feed him two ounces of milk.
How many parents have handed off their kid to a surgeon? Nine times.
Most kids don’t obsess over the number 10, want to rub people’s arms or have to take medicine every day of their life. Most parents don’t have to worry that their child will have a stroke, or watch him to make sure he doesn’t look more blue than usual.
My son can’t hear well, can’t speak well, chokes easily, vomits easily…and all of this? Is after he has come leaps and bounds thanks to countless therapy sessions. The occupational, physical and speech therapy sessions that most parents never have to attend.
I find myself constantly clenching my teeth, my body tense, my mind anxious.
My son is not a typical child and that’s okay. With the exception of taking away the physical pain he has suffered, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Watching him overcome so much, seeing him grow and become someone we never thought possible has been amazing. It is a journey like no other and, though the road has been bumpy, it has taken me to beautiful places that I didn’t even know existed.
The events of last week left me upset, not because I wanted pity, but because I wanted understanding and respect for my child. I don’t want his struggles to be dismissed, because they are not average. They’re monumental.
As for me? Well, every parent faces challenges, but I am guessing that they don’t dredge up the memories of the hundreds of challenges which came before. That is where I was last week; standing alone, in a place where images of our past were swirling around my head. Visions that left me sick and dizzy and ready to circle the wagons around my boy.
My son is not every child and I am not every parent. There are times when we can stand side-by-side with our peers, but there are just as many times that there is no comparing us whatsoever.
There are times when we are alone. And sometimes, being alone gets awfully lonely.