I live in two different worlds of parenting. The moms in these worlds are similar in some ways, but extremely different in others.
When my first child, Jaycee, was born, I entered the minority world of parenting a child with special and medical needs. With I was around other moms with children without special needs, I felt so different. I was a mom of a baby with Down syndrome and heart and lung issues. Before Jaycee turned 3 years old, my parenting revolved around doctors, therapy appointments, heart surgeries, minor surgeries, figuring out how to get Jaycee to take her daily medications, and isolating my child from germs. The world I was in was my "normal" even though it was quite different.
When I found myself in public situations around a small or large groups of moms, I was lost. My mothering woes weren't even on their radar. While they were conversing about the difficulty of nursing, I was worrying about Jaycee's congestive heart failure worsening. They were discussing potty training methods when Jaycee was just learning to walk. From the beginning, I just felt out of place.
There wasn't much about my mothering experience with Jaycee that was typical especially those first few years. Consequently, I did not feel comfortable in social situations with most other moms. When they discussed the horrors of an ear infection, I kept my mouth shut. When they bragged about their toddler counting, naming colors, or saying some long sentence, what was I to say? My Jaycee struggled in many areas. The normal mommy bragging and discussion of problems made me feel cut off from other mothers. I felt very out of place in social situations and felt more at ease speaking with other mothers who had children with special or medical needs.
When Elijah was born, I was actually outside my comfort zone when I had a typically developing, healthy child. I felt odd in this new world. I had no emergencies with him or a medical crisis to consume my thoughts. I had no surgeries to plan for or doctor's appointments to fill up our calendar. It felt strange.
When other mothers talked about their child, I now felt I could join in on some of the conversations with other new moms. I could now relate to a child with common issues. But, I had a different perspective than most because of Jaycee. I knew a "big" problem from a "little" problem, and I had trouble at times with moms who discussed things that they described as "the worst." Our "worsts" were still far away from each other.
With my children being 10 and 6 years old now, I have met many, many moms in both of these parenting worlds. There are many moms I can't connect with at all, but I have found a few gems.
I am grateful for the moms from each of the worlds who understand me. I am thankful for the mom who doesn't make fun of me for saying I can't have Jaycee out after 8 pm, because she understands Jaycee needs to be on her bi-pap before she falls asleep. I'm thankful for the mom who doesn't make a comment about my parenting when I ask for their help when Jaycee has thrown herself down and is refusing to move. I'm thankful for the mom who takes the time to say, "No, you're not," when I say that I'm fine. I'm thankful for the mom who asks questions (Why does Jaycee have a hard time talking?) instead of offering assumptions (She could probably talk if she wanted to.). When one of my mommy friends checks with me after an appointment with Jaycee, I'm grateful that they cared.
Navigating these two parenting worlds can be difficult. So to those moms who make it a little easier for me: Thank you!