Gossip hurts. Gossip is no fun and it tears someone down quicker than the blink of an eye. My family has been through the ringer with this one. That’s why I’m asking politely…please mind your own business!
I see my children tense before I even know why. We’ve been snuggled up on the couch for the last hour enjoying a family movie night. My youngest has built a nest of blankets so cozy and warm I feel like I could stay snuggled up there forever. Without warning, his body becomes ridged. I notice that my older son has his fists clenched firmly. My daughter has pulled her blanket tighter around her. My hearing seems to be fading in this fourth decade of my life so it takes me a moment to hear the approaching sirens, I too feel my heart skip a beat.
Adoption and foster care can be lonely. Special needs parenting can be even lonelier. Our families have unique circumstances, needs and stories. Often we are so desperate to share our experience with others that we miss the warning signs that a person is not trustworthy.
A few years ago, I met a lady at the park. A quick look at the slew of children between us showed that we had something unique in common. We both had multi-racial families. I watched her kids curiously across the playground. I sized her up as I counted the children she was minding. One, two, three, four, five. It could be a daycare, or maybe a play-date. I noticed that all five were calling her “Mommy.” My five were swarming around hers thankful for new friends. She struck up a conversation with me as I sat on the park bench bottle-feeding my foster daughter. My initial assessment was correct, she was a foster and adoptive mom.
Parenting children with special needs brings about many challenges. In fact, there are days when it’s nearly paralyzing. But that is exponentially greater when you overhear others criticizing your child for something that is out of their control.
I’m sitting in the bathroom stall sobbing. I’m pleading with myself to just get it together.
It all started an hour earlier at Meet The Teacher night. In the upper middle class suburban school district this is a crucial time. It’s critical to dress nicely, smile and for the love of all that’s holy, put on a little make-up! It’s all about first impressions and signing up for the PTA. You must remember all of your children’s supplies, labeled with their first name and last initial. Don’t forget the last initial! As luck would have it, 1/3 of the parents in the first grade were inspired to name their sons Jake.