I feel the need to state from the get-go that I am not the parent of a special needs child. But I have been so touched by two posts I've read recently on the topic that I felt I absolutely had to share them here.
In the first post, Sarah Palin shared what it's like to raise a special needs child in a recent first person piece for Newsweek. It's a rare side of Palin that we the public don't often get to see. In this post, she's not the plucky GOP sweetheart. She's a mother whose pride in her son beams through every sentence. She is tough. But she is also vulnerable, sharing the challenges that make life with her son Trig different than that of other moms. Yet she is also quick to point out how lucky and unique her situation is in that she has access to the financial, emotional, and social resources provided by her status and supportive family.
She comments, "[m]y family understands that up ahead, some days will be better than others. We will adapt and juggle things and work through it. But Trig applauds the day. And that’s what he teaches us. That’s our priority, and we’re blessed by it."
Just when I thought that Sarah Palin and I couldn't possibly have less in common, this article made it clear to me that we are actually bonded in a way I never realized. Sarah Palin is a mother who loves her child as fiercely as I love mine. And maybe that is all the common ground that we might ever need.
Here's the second item I wanted to show you. In "Dear School Personnel, Community Members, Teachers, Parents and Neighbors," author Marianne Russo of the blog The Life Unexpected pens an open letter to everyone and anyone who has crossed paths with her and her special needs child — from the parents and teachers at her child's school to the strangers she has come across at the supermarket. She asks us all to be role models by mirroring respect for special needs kids and discouraging gossip, "[t]he next time you see a special needs child know they are not just special in their needs but in their brilliance as well. Take the time to meet our children. Take the time to know us."
Thank you Sarah Palin and Marianne Russo, for the poignant reminders about what it means to raise a special needs child, and how we as a community can support you and your children.