Something to Deserve This
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Something to Deserve This

There are some words that cut deep and can never be forgotten – even words that aren’t meant to hurt. Several years ago, someone very close to me was talking about a friend of his who has three kids, two of whom have special needs. He told me, “She’s really not a very good mom, but even she doesn’t deserve to have two kids with special needs.”

It still makes my stomach clench to think about those words actually being said out loud. I had seen this lovely mom with her kids a few times, and the only “bad” parenting I had ever witnessed was the occasional forgotten jacket on a day that turned from warm to cool in that Wisconsin way that can catch you off guard. And, I know firsthand how hard it can be to be a “good” parent when you are struggling just to hold it all together.

Beyond the offensiveness on the surface of that comment was the deeper hurt. Someone whom I loved and respected inadvertently revealed that they thought having a child with special needs was doled out as punishment for bad parenting. That seemed so judgmental and harsh, and it was very likely that judgment was going to be turned on me – if it hadn’t already.

At the time, I was too stunned to say anything, but in the years since, I’ve thought about some things I wish I would have said. Responses like, “Am I just a halfway bad mom since I have only one child with special needs?” Or, “You should be lucky enough to deserve a child like my daughter because you have no idea what lessons you could learn.”

But, maybe it’s better that I said nothing. Because what if that comment was really self-defense for someone who wasn’t sure if they could handle a tough blow in life if it came their way? It’s hard to accept the fact that sometimes difficult things happen, and we have no control over them. It’s much easier to believe that being a good person or a good parent or a good employee can protect you from the rough turns in life. Unfortunately, doing everything to the very best of your abilities doesn’t guarantee a traditional “happily ever after” for everyone’s story.

While it wasn’t the path I expected, having Julia as my daughter has given my life depth and texture that it never would have had otherwise. I’ve learned important life lessons – and hopefully become a better person and a better parent – because she is a part of my life.

So, maybe, just maybe, that comment was right. I did do something to deserve this, and it must have been something very special. It’s a different kind of special, but I’m very lucky to be Julia’s mom.

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