I cannot count how many times I’ve heard people say, “I could never do it,” when referring to raising children with disabilities. It’s funny, because they often say this when referencing my life, as if my children were difficult, too much work – and although I know full well they don’t mean it – it suggests my children are less lovable. But here is the thing: Yes, you could do it!
So let’s dismantle the myth of “I could never do it.”
As a parent, do you love your children? Then yes, you could do it.
If there was an accident, and your child ended up in a wheelchair, would you care for her and love her? Then yes, you could do it.
If your two year old child was diagnosed with autism, would you still love him and try to do whatever you can to help him develop, and grow, and move through life? Then yes, you could do it.
If your child unexpectedly became sick and there were long term effects to her illness, would you still care for her and meet her needs? Then yes, you could do it.
Do you, as a parent, provide for the needs of your kids, whatever those needs are in different stages of life? Then yes, you could do it.
Because here is a reality, disability is a normal part of life. No, it is not a part of life that we ask for, that we hope for, or that we willingly walk into. But disability happens, and it makes itself at home in my family, or my neighbor’s, or perhaps even yours. Disability does not discriminate and if it terrifies you to think this could ever be you, I think you can imagine how we felt when it showed up at our door.
And then we discovered that yes, we could do it. How? It’s simple. It’s because of love. We love our children. We love deeply, abundantly, unendingly, fiercely. And you love your kids that way too.
Yes, you could do it. And I will be honest, I once thought I could never do it too. As a matter of fact, if there was a scale that could measure someone’s ability to “handle it,” I’m pretty sure I would have fallen in the category of, “Unqualified to raise a child with a disability.” Disability used to scare me. Having a child with Down syndrome was certainly not in my plans, and I struggled with the diagnosis.
And then something happened, through my child, and this new life I was thrown into, I began to see disability quite differently. The stereotypes, the blinders, the ignorance slowly lifted, like fog on a cold damp morning, revealing a bright day, a warm sun, and the promise of a full life.
Disability was not the monster I thought it was. Disability is a part of life and believe it or not, there are good things that come with disability. Things like understanding unconditional love, rearranging priorities, knowing what really matters in life, and the best group of friends you will ever meet.
In some way, when you look at me, you’re looking at who you could be if your child had a disability. I don’t have more love, patience, or perseverance than you do. I don’t have a “special touch” nor am I “favored.” I’m the you that you could be if parenting children with disabilities was your life. (And I apologize if the thought of being me terrifies you, you know, at a personal level).
Yes, you could do it. I know, because I see your courage and determination as you raise your children. I know, because I see strength in you as you parent your kids – and raising kids is the hardest thing any of us ever have to do. I know, because I see the love you have for your kids, it is indeed, strong, abundant, and fierce.
Yes, you could do it.