Dear Mommy, and Daddy
Mama, and Papa
Dear all the parents, of all the kids like me,
I know. You're jealous of those other parents. You're scared, and confused, and possibly even a little angry, because your child isn't typical, because life threw you for a loop, and now you're hearing confusing words like "autism", "cerebral palsy", "developmental delay", "Down Syndrome". You watch the way other parents go about their lives with such ease and you think "Why can't it be that easy for me?"
But do you realize what you do to me, when you say you're jealous? When you reference those other children, whose muscles developed in the "right" way, and in the "right" order? Does that make my body wrong? And if it does, doesn't that make me wrong?
When you say you're lucky, what does that make all the parents of all the children who are, in your eyes, "worse off"? Unlucky? Some would call you the unlucky one, for having me at all. If I were a "normal" child, would you consider yourself lucky, for avoiding the unfortunate reality of a disabled child?
You reference the drained bank accounts, the hours of therapy, as though I'm no more than another written check, a finance-sucking monster. Have you really distilled my life into a monetary value? Into a quantifiable number of hours, number of days? You dehumanize me.
You bemoan that I have never heard you say I love you. But I know you love me, because I can feel it. Love isn't about words. It's about the little things. It's about staying up all night, waiting to hear the slam of the door as your child comes in. It's about tucking your child in every night, even when you know she's way too old. It's about the hugs that mean everything. And it's about giving your child the best possible quality of life you can give - and knowing that quality of life doesn't mean being normal. It means being happy.
You make me feel like a burden on your life as you enumerate my difficulties, the things that other children do that I did late or may never do. Is that what you wanted? Because congratulations, you've succeeded. But you wanted to be my parent. It doesn't matter if you wanted a normal child more, because you can't request that of the egg and sperm that come together to make a child. You can't return me like a too-big dress, a shirt that looked good on the hanger, but awful when you brought me home. I am your child - like it or not.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous sometimes, too. Jealous of the fluid movements, of the endless energy, of the life without pain. But the fact of the matter is, this is my life and I enjoy it to the fullest. I do not feel the loss that you feel, because I never envisioned myself any other way. I am not broken, or worthless, or unlucky, or wrong. Please don't put those labels on me because of your unexpected journey into disability-land. I am whole, just the way I am. Do you see me that way?
You are entitled to your jealousy, and I am entitled to my sadness. All I want is for you to love me - no restrictions, no qualifiers, just the way I exist, right at this very moment. Is that too much to ask?