“Why Me?” This one question became a constant voice in my head after I heard the words ‘Down Syndrome’ and that added note that ‘your daughter isn’t normal’ from that Doctor! I remember the crying through the days and the growling through the nights. When all I could think of was ‘how this whole thing was a terrible mistake’ and ‘how this wasn’t meant to happen to me’. I believed I was a fairly lucky, almost like God’s favorite! He could’t have done this to me!
I always believed I had it better than many. A fairly good childhood, a great husband, beautiful son, stable career. This was not supposed to happen to me. It only happens to other people! This is not how I planned my life. I used to have weird conversation in my head with God asking him why he did this to me? I don’t even pray. I am almost like a nonbeliever: then why me? Was he punishing me? But, He is God! He shouldn’t do that!
I am sure; like me, a lot of parents must’ve asked this question without any answer. So I thought of trying to solve the puzzle myself. And like a market research ( which was a subject I studied) I thought of randomly selecting 20 parents of children with special needs (of course without telling them) that I knew and tried to see if they have anything in common! And to my surprise, they did!
While I know my pointers could be for fun, prejudiced and not completely correct for the entire population of parents of special-needs children but if more than 60-70% were falling into a category, I knew they belonged there! Majority always wins!
Most of the parents in my research group are inherently joyful people ( or was it in my head?) No, they are actually happy) They have great sense of humor, can laugh at themselves, have a positive vibe, know how to smile and live life to the fullest. I have never come across any parent with a special needs child who is grumpy by nature.
To drive the point home, I would like to mention a dialogue from my favorite movie ‘Before Sunset.’
For those who have not seen the movie, You must, and for those who have, Great choice! Describing it only as ‘two strangers, choosing to spend a night walking and talking would be an injustice. It is an intelligent film, which needs a watch! Anyway back to the point, here is the dialogue…
Jesse (one of the character): I read this study where they followed people who had won the lottery, and people who had become paraplegics, right! I mean you’d think that…you know, one extreme is gonna make you…euphoric, and the other suicidal. But the study shows that after about 6 months…as soon as people got used to their new situation, they were more or less the same.
Céline: The same?
Jesse: Well, yeah…Like if they were basically an optimistic, jovial person, they’re now an optimistic, jovial person, in a wheelchair. If they’re a petty miserable as****s OK, they’re a petty miserable as****s with a new Cadillac, a house and a boat.
( Glad you got the point) So once the acceptance sets in, you are the same person that you were!
I invariably thought of myself as too vocal about things I believed and not believed in. And this was a trait I have always had. But again to my amusement, this characteristic was found to be a ‘definite’ in this research group. Especially mothers! Also I don’t think they all developed it only after the birth of their child. And yes, two commons!
3. Go- getters
My tiny research group showed how these 20 parents were not only passionate people but they are also go-getters. These people are fighters, advocates, worldly wise, great managers, multi-taskers, are wonderful sons and daughters and individuals who take challenges head on! All 20 of them..tick tick!
Even before the birth of my daughter, when special-needs children were just statistics for me, I was a sympathetic person. I always did what I could for strays, under-privileged and people in need. And after talking to few of my research subjects (on random topics) I know, this is one quality they all shared, before being a parent, surprising? ? No, not really!
Yes, you read it right! And it’s an absolutely exceptional quality to have. Unless a parent can be selfish and have right priorities at the right time, like being detached when needed or being able to take time off and have a life of their own, they can’t survive and sustain for long in this battle of life. We all care selflessly for our kiddos but we can also have a great time with ourselves and most of the parents were doing it long before they had their special little people in their lives.
After thinking hard about it, I think God does have a ‘type’ for parents of children with special needs. It might be difficult for new parents to comprehend initially but sooner or later everyone understands the valuable lessons of life we learn by simply going through this journey.
Here is a great quote for all the parents from Morris west’s ” The clowns of God”
(It is like a letter from God to us parents)
Morris west’s ” The clowns of God”
(It is like a letter from God to us parents)
You need a sign? What better one could I give than to make this little one whole and new? I could do it, but i will not. I am the Lord and not a conjurer. I gave this mite a gift I denied to all of you– Eternal innocence. To you she looks imperfect– but to me she is flawless, like the bud that dies unopened or the fledgling that falls from the nest to be devoured by the ants. she will never offend me, as all of you have done. She will never pervert or destroy the work of my father’s hands. She is necessary to you. She will evoke the kindness that will keep you human. Her infirmity will prompt you to gratitude for your own good fortune.More! She will remind you every day that I am who I am, that my ways are not yours, and that the smallest dust mote whirled in darkest space does not fall out of my hand. I have chosen you. You have not chosen me. This little one is my sign to you. Treasure!”
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Image credit: annawrites.com