‘How come you decided to write a book?’ I have been asked.
‘Where on earth did you find the time?’ Many have quizzed.
And ‘Thank you Deborah, thank you for sharing.’ I have been honoured to hear.
To bare all, to voice my innermost fears and to share my trials of early parenthood with the world is no easy task. Yet I have chosen to do so, in the hope of supporting others who find themselves in similar circumstances and to raise awareness about what it really feels like to be a mum of children with special needs.
It all begins during the transition from pregnancy to motherhood. It may be a painstakingly long, surgical experience or may have even taken place in front of a petrified taxi driver, but it’s not only the undignified birth that can be overwhelming and dramatic.
I’m referring to your first glance, your first cuddle and your first moments of motherhood. It’s indescribable and a time when you can begin to fathom the awesome responsibility that is parenthood. Yet for many, it is also a time of question and uncertainty. When a child is born with or develops special needs at that stage in their early life, the beauty and excitement surrounding the birthing experience is replaced with fear, anxiety and profound sadness. The effect on the lives of the new parents can be total devastation.
We all want our children to be ‘normal’. But I ask you, how does society define normal? Does it mean that someone is born with the correct number of fingers and toes? Perhaps their disabilities are not obvious at birth and they only develop in later years. Does a child then become abnormal because they have developed special needs?
In fact, the percentage of occurrences of children being born with or developing special needs is on the increase, primarily because of improvements in medical care and diagnosis.
A survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 10.2 million U.S. children have special healthcare needs, which equals to 14 percent of all U.S. children. More than one-fifth of U.S. households with children have at least one child with special needs.
So how abnormal are children with special needs? Let’s look at it this way…
We are all so different defined by a myriad of personality traits and characteristics. Yet those who have another way of being, caused by missing chromosones or changed synapses, are stigmatized with an abnormal label. With one in 88 children in the U.S. diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, what constitutes normal? Perhaps it’s time we readdressed the question of ‘normal’?
As a parent of two children with totally different special needs, my redemption and ability to write my upcoming memoir A Brief Moment in Time came from accepting our lives and our children as our kind of ‘normal’, with no comparisons to others. By not succumbing to the world’s current definition, our family has been able to take steps towards finding contentment.
Though our journey is far from complete, it feels great to have found the path…I hope these questions help you find yours.