Sunday night, in a small town in Montana, I met a really incredible woman. She’s the cousin of another friend I made in this town, and when he introduced us, and she asked what I do for work, she immediately wanted to know all about what I do.
She disclosed that all four of her children have invisible disabilities. Two were there with her. Awesome kids doing their best to thrive. Watching her with them was a beautiful thing. She’s got the mom thing down. She’s got it down in the context of an educator, too.
I talked to her about how being the parent of a child with a disability is very much like having a disability, as far as it affecting life. Affecting work attendance, ability to do things around the house, etc.
One of my best friends back home is a hero mom whose child has multiple significant disabilities. It affects her in all these ways. We compare notes on our lives in the realm of disability.
When you break it down, parents of children with disabilities live with 5 of the 7 “outstanding symptoms” I’ve identified (read the full blog entry on that here):
- Medical expenses
- Insurance hassles
- Treatment inconveniences
- Damage to relationships
- All the other losses
Add all the other stresses that can actually manifest in a real invisible disability for the parent.
I’m not a parent. I can’t speak to the real difficulty of parenting even an able-bodied child. I did witness it staying with a toddler in California for over a week. And I’ve talked to my friends.
So to all parents, my hat’s off to you, for sure. And to parents of children with disabilities, I can relate with our common “outstanding symptoms.” What you’re living is indeed very close to having a disability. I hope you have the acknowledgment and support you deserve. You might benefit from using the Splat System and the Impact Map for yourself or with your children.
For a bit of inspiration about another hero parent friend of mine, check out this blog entry.