People mean well when they reassure you that ‘special children are only sent to special parents’. Or worse, ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle’. (If this is true, God is making a lot of misjudgements of late!)
As a ‘special’ parent of a ‘special’ child, I’ve tried to ignore how these phrases creep under my skin and make me itch ferociously, but I can’t stifle it any longer. So I’m sticking my neck out and calling bullshit on both.
You see, while ‘special parents’ appreciate the intentions, we can’t help but feel more than a little patronised by these wise words.
Why? Because we’re not special. We’re parents, just like everyone else. Parents who got a bombshell landed in the middle of their living room granted, but average, human parents nonetheless!
We don’t have the patience of Saints.
We don’t cope with sleep deprivation any better than others.
We don’t necessarily have an in-built aptitude for understanding medicine or whatever other therapies our children undergo.
We aren’t mentally stronger than parents of ‘regular’ children.
And we don’t know how we do it either!
But here’s the thing. We do it because we have to do it.
We do it because our love for our children will always be a million times more powerful than any shit their health problems can throw at us.
So we fake patience.
We drink coffee. (And then top it up with Lucozade/Berocca/insert lifesaver of choice.)
We make ourselves understand the medical world. We read. We ask questions. Failing this exam is not an option so we learn, learn and learn some more. Knowledge is power. Ignorance is a cop-out.
We break, just like everybody else (except probably more often). We might feel able for anything one day and lock ourselves in the bathroom bawling the next.
The thing we have in common regardless of the illness or challenge our child faces (in our case Cystic Fibrosis), is not that we’re ‘special’. It’s that we step up. And by stepping up we learn to be stronger; we train ourselves to be more resilient. We give our coping abilities a workout on a daily basis.
I don’t believe any of our ‘special’ children ‘chose’ us because we are inherently or divinely ‘special’, but I do believe they teach us lots of special skills along the way.
And just like my daughter is not special because of her Cystic Fibrosis (she’s special because of her infectious personality and caring nature), I’m not special because of her Cystic Fibrosis either.
It’s bullshit to suggest that she or I were ‘sent this’ because we could deal with it, where others couldn’t. It’s just shit that we were sent it in the first place!
But we deal with it because we have to.
And in the same situation you would do exactly the same thing.