by Kristina Mulligan
Whenever I am discussing my son’s need for Early Intervention Services or any of his diagnoses with a peer, usually the first words out of their mouth is “I’m sorry.” And you know something? I’m likely guilty of this, too. It’s an instinct and sometimes the words just come out before you can even stop them – like word-vomit. I know that the intentions are usually good.
You’re sorry that everything is so difficult.
You’re sorry that there is little time to enjoy the sweet moments of childhood.
You’re sorry that so much of our time is obligatorily spent at some type of appointment.
You’re sorry that this life that we never asked for is the one that we have.
But I’m not sorry.
Of course, whenever I pictured my future child’s life, I saw all of the positives: the effortless running and jumping, endless talking, refrigerators covered with artwork, trips to museums and concerts, complete with laughter and joy. Our life may look a little bit (or a lot) different than I had once dreamed, but I am so much more appreciative of the little things. There may not be long runs and high jumps, but boy, do those tiny steps he takes bring tears to my eyes. Our conversations may not be much to an outsider, but my heart understands every word he says. The coloring on our walls may not be beautiful to you, but I appreciate the effort that went into each stroke. Outings and scheduled activities may not appear on our agenda often, but that means that we cherish our time together even more. I have plenty of laughter. I have joy. We live our own happiness in our own way.
As a special needs parent, I don’t expect, want, or need pity. Compassion, maybe, but never for someone to feel sorry for our circumstances. Instead of apologies, try offering a listening ear, a helping hand, or possibly even caffeine. I would love company to an important doctor’s appointment or therapy session. My love language these days is research, so it speaks volumes when someone is informed on a condition, treatment, or diagnosis that our family is working through. The words, “How do you spell that so that I can Google it later?” touch my soul in the deepest way.
You don’t ever have to apologize. We are so grateful every day, believe me.