Last week I decided not to write about the Time magazine cover after I saw the controversial images online. Why? I didn't want to publicize a piece perpetuating The Mommy Wars (or help TIME sell more issues). But as the days passed and the posts (and parodies) piled up, I couldn't ignore one question that consumed me—where does the special needs parenting community fit into The Mommy Wars?
The answer: We don't.
Regardless of a child's diagnosis, special needs mothers aren't in a civil war with other special needs mothers.
As any parent of a special needs child will confirm, we desperately need one another: We cling to the fact that we are part of the same team, we want to support each other, and we couldn't survive without our like-minded community. Sure, we may practice attachment parenting (or not), we may chose the bottle over the breast and we may stay-at-home instead of work, but regardless of perceived (or very real) differences, we are all bound by the universal fact that we never, ever feel like we can do enough for our special needs child(ren). Speaking from experience, it is humanly impossible for one person to meet all the needs of a child with a disability, but that doesn't stop us from trying every single day or from cheering loudly for one another all the time.
The judgment-free acceptance that defines the special needs motherhood community has strengthened my confidence, my resolve, and most of all my commitment to stand alongside my sister-moms as they battle the real Mommy Wars—fighting for the best interests, the rights, and the best practices for their children.
Since I've learned almost as much from other special needs mothers as I have from actually parenting my son (and his twin sister), I humbly submit my special needs mommy manifesto in hopes that it stops even one battle.
The Special Needs Mommy Manifesto
- We really are all In this together.
- Yes, I've been there, too.
- A smile is worth a thousand words—a supportive grin, a meaningful gesture, or a quick wink can change an entire day.
- Things can always be worse.
- Our mothers were right: Don't ever judge a book by it's cover, even if my child is having a meltdown at your feet or isn't using his fork.
- If you haven't walked in my shoes/sneakers/flip-flops/Uggs, please don't offer unsolicited advice.
- Deal with real issues—don't waste precious time on the meaningless.
- If you don't have something nice to say, please choose silence—we'll both feel better.
- Collective finger crossing, hugs and hand-holding are some of our most powerful weapons as moms.
- Every day I am doing my very best, just like you.
- Say thank you often—and loudly—to other mothers.
- Almost everything I ever really needed to know about motherhood I learned from other moms.
- Mom-ness can't be measured—50 Shades of Motherhood is a fantasy.
- Mother On.
Originally Published on Huffington Post Parents.
Laura Rossi Totten is a mom to boy-girl twins and blogs at My So-Called Sensory Life.