Silent Epidemics

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Special Needs Mom.

I roll over that label in my head. It feels alien, like when you first refer to yourself as Mrs or spell out your address to friends for the first time. You are not quite sure how you arrived there. But you are there, with all the baggage that comes with that label.

In the beginning, I kept it to myself, full of optimism that this was a phase. My children will outgrow whatever quirks that make them stand out. Then I realize that this is not a phase, this is not something they will grow out of. This is who they are. This is why they do what they do. This makes them the unique people they are. My heart understands it. My brain is looking for ways around it. It is forever searching for the normal in the bell curve and ways to push my children to the center.

It takes an offhand remark from a friend about a miscarriage for it to hit me. I am not sure how to grieve with my friend. I tiptoe, I send a warm message but hold back things I really want to say. I want to say I understand. I want to ask about the gender of the child that passed. I want to humanize this wee person, to grieve its silent passing.

When falling off tracks that people term normal, we are not quite sure how to handle it. What is normal anyway? We hide from the labels, procrastinating evaluations, treatment, medication. We are quick to dismiss things we are not familiar with like therapy or medicines that correct chemical imbalances in the brain. We take pride in disavowing what pushes us firmly into outlier territory. Actions that mark us as different.

We live our lives in narrow circles, preferring to be with people like us. People bearing crosses heavier than ours.

Sometimes I wonder how it would be if there was no normal or if everything was normal. If age was recognized as the social construct it is. If I can stop telling my children to act their age (whatever that means). If I can be the mom I want to be instead of the one I am.

If we can talk about infertility, divorce, the single life, the special needs life, the lonely life, the unhappy life as much as we talk about our gifted children, our fulfilled lives, our happiness, these epidemics perhaps won’t exist?

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