It's not just about beauty or physical appearance, it's everything - how you parent, what you eat, what you drive, who you talk to - literally e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. no matter how old, accomplished or important you are. Donate a million dollars to charity? Our society will pick apart where your money came from, who you donated it to and what you wore while doing it. Everything down to the last little stubble of hair on your not well shaved enough legs.
We live in time when people are so quick to judge, so quick to criticize, so quick to jump to the conclusions. Maybe this is how it's always been, I haven't been around forever so I really can't answer that. I can only say what I know and as an adult who is constantly under the microscope - I can say I see it way more than I ever could have anticipated.
I want to be able to tell my 11 year old daughter that the judging and criticizing - and honestly bullying - from other people goes away when you are an adult, especially since I actually believed that at one point. And then, I
So many people seem to thrive on building self doubt in others. I've heard and (meh) somewhat believe that people who try to make you doubt yourself do so to make up for their own insecurities. Possible. And sometimes that makes me feel better but the bigger question of "why?" always lingers. Do you really feel better by making someone feel worse? Maybe it's true and some do, I simply can't understand that. More importantly, that doesn't make it ok. Not even a little bit.
I mean, really, "it's normal middle school/high school" behavior isn't a solution - it's an excuse. An excuse without consequence that teaches "acceptable" life long behavior in many. What frustrates me most is the "solution" that is offered is for the people picked on to "have thicker skin" - because clearly changing sensitivity for hardness is an awesome idea. It's always wiser to change the person who is hurt by the words than the change the attitude of the person saying them, right?. (*brilliant*) (yes, that was sarcasm)
The struggles Allison and I face with other people's words that bring us down are sometimes similar (weight, hair, clothes, likes, dislikes...) and as an adult a new layer is piled on... parenting.
I'll admit, I like to hide myself in the bubble that surrounds my house and block out the rest of the world on a pretty regular basis. It's easier. I get more accomplished. I feel better about myself because I'm subjected to less criticism and it's easy to block out people on Social Media who are full of negativity. I have no problem living this way. It's probably part of the reason the 3 of us have so much fun together.
I am, also, a very social person. I love to be around and meet new people. This typically requires me to leave my bubble and when I do, I'm reminded of the added layer that Allison gets to look forward to if we can't change people's way of treating each other - this insane acceptance that it's perfectly ok to criticize everything about other people. Seriously, enough already. Just stop. I'd rather hear 5 hours of stories on how your child finally pooped in the potty over 1 minute of your ripping apart every common person we know for situations that you honestly don't know the entire story on.
I've often said I feel at an advantage because I am a special needs mom. I see the world differently, I've seen the harshness but I've also seen the most amazing and beautiful things - the stepping stones, that other people take for granted. I have a deep appreciation for what is often overlooked. It also stops me from believing I understand what someone else is going through and how I could parent their child better. That... that is what I'm struggling with today. Those are the words that are in my way, blocking my focus and filling me with self doubt. Someone else pointing out to others all the ways they could better parent my children.
Here is something brutally honest. I have no idea what is like to raise your children. I have no idea what their wants, needs or likes are. I have no idea what makes them happy, sad, overwhelmed... nothing. I know nothing about places you've been, things you've tried, or what is on your bucket list - or if you even have one. I don't know your finances, I don't know your fears, I don't know your dreams. I don't know. I don't walk in your family's shoes. I walk in mine.
So to venture out of my bubble and be approached by I'm sure well intended friends to tell me that person V thinks I'm not doing enough for my kids - with a list of examples of everything we should be doing so they have a "well rounded childhood" (<---- what is that anyway?!?) kinda sticks with me, even though I should get thicker skin and let it roll off. Here's the thing, person V barely knows my children, barely knows our life and certainly does not understand Fragile X or the challenges we face. Here's what's worse - when I let their words get in my way, I do things that are actually detrimental to my children. Not in major ways but in small, I knew better, ways.
Best example - Disney. I was convinced by others that my children were not living a full childhood if they had not been to Disney. So... we went. And while Allison did alright with it, it wasn't the most awesome, magical experience - it didn't hold a candle to camping with Grandma... and for Parker it was a sensory overload nightmare. A nightmare that lasted a good couple of hours before I tearfully apologized for putting him in a situation that went against anything he would ever like and took him back to the hotel. Back to the hotel where it took me hours to decompress him and get him out of the state of hyperarousal. When I think of what I could have done for Parker and Allison with the amount of money I spent at Disney giving them an experience and memories they would honestly love to remember... I can only hang my head in shame for falling prey to letting other's words get in my way.
I often reach out to others for ideas and advice. I am constantly learning about Fragile X, constantly following research, constantly watching every move of my children to not only understand their worlds better but also to watch for opportunity. I believe in trying more than once, I believe in pushing them, I believe in trying new things. But, I need you to trust me that I know them better than anyone. I know some situations simply are not something they will enjoy. Some things, are simply not meant for them - or us. And you know what? That's not exclusive to special needs families - it's every family. We are all so individual - that needs to be respected.
The same things are true regarding my hair, my weight, my house, the vehicle I drive, the animals I raise... every aspect of my life. It's my life. Life is more than filled with a million demons. Don't be one more, don't fuel a fire that you don't understand how it started.
If you need my help, I trust you will ask me. If I need your help, I promise I will ask you. I am always happy to help, share our experience and help you find solutions that may work for your family. I'm not in a place to judge anyone. I haven't walked your path, only mine. I'm here to support you, help you and... build you up. Build. You. Up. - and then step back, filled with pride and watch you shine. Because you can - shine - we all can, sometimes it just takes hearing it enough or a point in the right direction to make it happen.
I love suggestions, I love hearing what works for others, I love the empowerment and passing on Hope and excitement to others. I love to surround myself with these people from near and far. I pray I can teach my children to find helpful, encouraging people to surround themselves with too. To understand everyone has a battle, most often one you cannot see and would never imagine possible for that person. Of all of the contagious things we could spread in this world, one of the very best is something positive.
Being negative, being critical, being degrading... easy. Anyone can do it and many do. Being positive, encouraging, uplifting, hopeful - not just in your own life but also in the lives of those around you - that is much harder because it goes against the grain... it also makes the biggest difference. It really, really does.
Don't let your words get in someone else's way. Find the words that inspire. Find the words that empower. Find the words that build up. And then use them. Everyday.
And, if you are like me and let others words get in your way ~ remember you are beautiful in every single way. Surround yourself with those who can remind you of that. Thank you to those in my life who always do that for me... you know who you are ... I love you dearly.