To the Lady Who Shook Her Head

To the Lady Who Shook Her Head:

Do you remember me?  I was the mom walking behind you yesterday.  I know you wanted to turn around and stare.  But you didn’t.  I heard you ask your son “Who’s behind us?”  He turned around, looked at us, and then told you it was 3 people.  And then you shook your head. Maybe you were shaking your head because he didn’t give you the full description of us that you were looking for. Maybe you were shaking your head because you think I’m a bad mom.  Or maybe my girls were getting on your nerves.  You might have been thinking that if I would just discipline my girls then they wouldn’t act like that.  Maybe you were thinking that you would never allow your children to act like that in public.  I know your thoughts because 10 years ago I had those same thoughts.  It was easy to have those thoughts when our older girls behaved perfectly every time we were in public.   I had never walked in the same shoes that the mom with the misbehaving kids has to walk in.  But I wear those shoes now.

I wish you had seen the strategy that we put into place earlier when we entered the building.  You would have seen me come in with only one little girl. After I signed us in you would have seen a handsome man enter with another little girl who looks a lot like the little girl standing beside me. You would have seen us walk up the hallway just far enough apart so that our girls couldn’t hit each other. Then you would have seen our girls hug and kiss us and say “I love you” before they left with their therapists.  You would have heard a therapist talk about how sweet and loving our girls are.  And you would have witnessed the amazing look of victory on my face because we made it into the building without making a scene.

I wish you had seen what happened in the bathroom.  I wish someone had seen what happened in the bathroom because I have no idea what happened.  All I know is that I went into a stall and I told the girls to stand beside the sinks.  And all of a sudden everything was out of control.  They were hitting each other and yelling at each other.  I wish you could have seen that I disciplined them and then I tried to convince them that they should be nice to each other.  I wish you could have seen me take a deep breath as I pulled the bathroom door open.  I wish you had known that the only thought in my head was to just get out of the building as fast as we could.

I wish you could have seen the man walking in front of us when our girls continued to make a scene. He never turned around.  He never shook his head.  If he judged us he did it privately.  And then we rounded the corner and the girls got louder and more upset.  And then we were behind you.  I really wish you would have walked a little faster.  The only thing that I had on my mind was getting out of the building and you were walking kind of slow.  I wish that you had realized that the 3 people behind you have feelings.   I wish you had realized that whispers, stares, and shaking your head only make my life harder.

I don’t know if you were still there when I leaned down to sign us out.  But it was at that moment that one of my sweethearts hit the other sweetheart on the back of the head with a coloring book.  You might not have seen it but there were many people who did.  I was irritated and I was embarrassed. I probably turned about 50 shades of red.  If you didn’t see it happen perhaps you heard the chaos as you were walking to your car.

I wish you could have heard me tell my husband about everything that had happened. I told him how much it hurt when you shook your head.  I wish you knew how defeated I felt.  And that I’ve cried many tears over the years because I just simply have no idea what to do.  I wish that you knew that we are doing the best that we can for our family. But sometimes we have really bad days.  Sometimes I’m angry because we’ve been given this life to live. Sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly do it anymore. And that’s how I was feeling yesterday when you shook your head.

I wish you could have seen how my day turned around when I got home and found a package in the mailbox.  It was a book called The Life that Overcomes.   I didn’t even know this book existed.  A ministry sent it to us to thank us for supporting them.  It’s not a coincidence that this book arrived when it did.  The Lord knew that I was going to need some encouragement at the end of this day.  He wants me to overcome my fear of what other people think of me.  He wants me to choose to have a good day even when someone shakes their head at me.  He wants me to learn to overcome my emotions and stop thinking that I can’t do this anymore.  He wants me to learn to enjoy my life even when it’s hard, even when it’s out of control, and even when I can’t find much to be joyful about.

The next time you see a mom who’s struggling with her kids, could you do something for me?  Could you smile and say something kind?  Kindness can change her world.  If you don’t know what to say, could you show kindness by letting her go in front of you?  Could you say a prayer for her?  Prayer can change her world too.  And I would like to ask you to forgive me for being irritated with you for shaking your head.  Because chances are that you walk in a pair of shoes that I don’t have to walk in.  And I don’t understand your struggles any more than you understand mine.

Sincerely,

The mom who was having a really bad day yesterday

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17 thoughts on “To the Lady Who Shook Her Head

    • Tricia: I read your story about the Lady who shook her head. I just wanted to tell you that being a mother of 4 (mine are not necessarily special needs) but I can tell you, they have embarrassed me so bad in public with their behaviors and I just want you to know that your girls are beautiful and they are lucky to have you and your husband. I have been where you are and believe me, your girls are fine, they appear to be happy and healthy and let’s face it, they are children (with a few extra obstacles) but they are still god’s gifts to all of us. Don’t ever let other people make you feel wrong, inferior or like your a bad mom. I can tell you are a great mom, just by the smiles on your girls faces.

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  1. As always, another awesome post that I can relate to on probably every single level! Thanks for sharing with us. Love you guys. Do you live anywhere near upstate NY by any chance? If so, maybe we could commiserate in person!! LOL!

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  3. Reading your post made me think about the lady and her son. Was she older? Maybe she was having a bad day to, maybe she heard bad news that day, maybe something was not quite right for her…. Or she could have just been an insensitive person. We don’t want others to pass judgement on us yet we pass it on others, as if we are the only ones going through life’s challenges. I get stared at all the time when I’m out with my four year old. I send blessings to those who stare and keep my focus on my beautiful daughter.

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  4. Thank you for this post–my husband and I can relate too well. I wish I could just forward this to all the parents at our kiddo’s school and on every teams sport. They just don’t know. I was blessed the other day to have a mom apologize to me for her kid hitting my kid–I was able to let her know that I am only a couple years ahead of her in this journey and that she isn’t alone–we all keep learning and finding new tools for our special families. Heck, I just found you today!

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  5. I totally understand. I don’t think other people “get” that special needs parents are judged and isolated. So many of us loose friends and family. Our lifeline is gone. When we go out in public and people treat us like less it can become hard to function. I hope that this woman was not judging you. Sending a hug and a smile. Your girls are lovely.

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  6. I can understand your feelings you felt, I had 2 children that were born with microcephaly my oldest lived to be 10 years old and was in a wheelchair and spent a lot of his time screaming, I had taken him to many doctors trying to find out why with no success, I had to take him out in public a lot and he sometimes would behave and other times he would not, I too had to endure stares, head shaking and comments, but I learned very early on that I just had to develop a thick skin and push on. If I dwelled on it or let it get the best of me making me relive it over and over instead of just loving my children and letting it go to be the best mother I could, it would consume me, causing me to have long sleepless nights and so much stress. My youngest lived only to 19 months and my oldest to 10 years. I miss them everyday but I feel they are now in a better place, with the Lord, and the Lord sent me these 2 boys to teach me patience and understanding. I know have a better understanding of people and I now accept people for who they are and not judge them because they do not understand and some never will or want to. I am not saying that you do not have a right to vent we all do, just remember that this is your life, when that woman went home she probably forgot all about your and your girls, but when you went home did you forget about that woman and just go on with your day? your girls are the most important not what some stranger said or did an hour ago or a day ago. I realized early on with my son that all that mattered was that he was well cared for and as happy as I could make him while he was with me in this world. And that carried on to my youngest, I made the best life I could for him during his short time with me. All you need to do is learn the lesson that the Lord is trying to teach you through your girls.

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  7. I don’t have special needs children, just a sympathetic heart. I saw this post on Yahoo. Great article and I hope many others read it.

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  8. Tricia,
    First I am sorry for what you have gone through and all the challenges you and your daughters have to come not just with themselves, but the public. Second I am sorry my comment will be a bit long as I suffer some of the things your daughters do and though I am now 34 and have had years of counseling and tutors, even with editing I have a hard time getting exactly what I want to say out (especially when writing).
    Your daughters are very lucky to have a mom like you who is trying so hard. I don’t know how many times my mom saw people shaking there heads at me or my dad being told I was learning disabled and he would argue that I was not disabled I just learned different. Even as an adult recently someone got frustrated with me because I didn’t understand the social cue to stop talking and my mom had to tap me slightly like she has all my life in a way to tell me to wrap up.
    Your daughters are in for a life of learning to adjust to every life situation not just school with these issues but they can each learn a few “life hacks” I know that it is probably of more comfort to talk to mothers going through what you are but if you want to talk to someone who has been the kid and maybe get a different point of view please feel free to reach out to me.
    Just know one thing your kids might not know how to say what they mean or tell you they are grateful at this point, but years down the line and past all the normal teenage stuff it is parents like you that are so rare we realize just how much we lucked out. When your young it seems given every parent should do certain things. It is only later we see how rare that really is.
    One last thing, if a person shakes there head or makes a comment and you have the time and ability say something. Encourage questions. My mom did this with me and helped me learn to articulate my challenges and how I might need help leading to me being able to get help with notes in school or assistance at work and others learning some of my strengths that I could trade in return like being very good with research and attention to detail. The fact that I am a much better speaker then writer helped with group projects in school because one would do notes, one write the paper, I would do most of the research and the oral presentations. Just something to think about.
    I do hope you will reach out but if you don’t I am going to say thank you now that your girls will say one day, and sorry fort all the tears you shed I wish I could help take them. Keep up the blog and helping other moms and reminding me to call my mom again today and say thank you.

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