I am a parent with a full-time job and two small children with very different special needs. And you know what that means: I don’t return phone calls unless they come from my children’s schools or specialists. It’s not something I’m proud of, but if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you understand it. So last week a good friend called a few times, and I never got back to her. I sent her a few texts, didn’t hear from her, made myself a note to catch up with her this week.
Today I logged onto Facebook and discovered that her four-year-old was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Oof. I left her a voice mail, and she emailed me back a few hours later. Usually that’s my MO, not hers. And her email to me sounded more like me than like her too – she’s exhausted and overwhelmed. She’s juggling specialist appointments, learning how to manage this illness, and mourning who she has just learned her child is – all while loving and protecting him with everything she’s got. She’s just entered the exclusive club: Special Needs Parent. And she entered the way many of us did: we landed there with very little preparation or understanding of what just happened.
All day I’ve been thinking about my own son’s diagnosis, a little more than 2 years ago, and trying to remember the things people said to me in that time when I was still in shock. Some responses I wanted to answer with my fists. But others made me feel less alone, less frightened, less hopeless. And I haven’t forgotten any of them, good or bad. What did people say to you when you learned of or first started managing your child’s special needs? What were the things made you feel loved and supported, that helped you realize you could put one foot in front of the other even one more time?
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