I’m sorry. I am so sorry I was so naïve. I was so naïve in thinking that my child wouldn’t notice. I thought they would just play. I didn’t think he would recognize the differences. I thought they would play happily without any recognition of the wheelchair/arm flapping/screaming/speech disorder/Down’s Syndrome/Autism. But he did.
My heart broke when he pointed and furrowed his brow when he saw your child flapping her hands. My cheeks got red and hot when my child hid behind my legs from your son’s wheelchair. It is so complicated, isn’t it? It is so complicated that only a two year-old child can point out the simplicity of it. “Mommy, I scared.”
I guess that is where it starts for all of us. Where stereotypes begin. Fear. We fear what we don’t know. Why would I expect my toddler to be any different? He isn’t.
So here is my promise. I promise we will talk about the differences. I promise when he points at your child in the grocery store, I won’t scoop him up and hush him with shameful whispers. I will talk about it. And not just about the differences, but also the similarities.
“He uses a wheelchair to go and you use your legs. But look, he has a Paw Patrol shirt on. He likes Paw Patrol like you do.”
“She flaps her hands when she gets excited and you laugh and clap. It looks like you both like watching these monkeys!”
“She has Down’s Syndrome, and that is different than you. But you both love playing soccer.”
“He has no hair and you have curly hair. He has a blue hat, and you love blue!”
Those thirty seconds of me pointing out the differences and similarities of our children, well, it is probably going to be hard for me. I might be a little uncomfortable. It will be worth it though. If it erases that fear. If our children can play together without boundaries. It will be worth it. And parenting is hard. If it isn’t we are doing it wrong.
And Mama, please know this isn’t about charity or me feeling good about myself at the end of the day. This is about my child not missing out on some amazing people. I work with your babes every day. Every day I learn more about kindness, strength, courage, and faith. I experience more joy, sweetness, and hilariousness. I don’t want my little man to miss out on these experiences. I don’t want anyone to.
So come over. Let’s drink coffee and watch our children learn about each other. And someday, maybe, when our kids are adults they can drink coffee together too.
A little shout out to my own Mama. Thank you for teaching me that even when I feel like I am pouring from an empty cup, I still have kindness and love to share. I love you.
4 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day Mama”
Hi Andrea, My name is Catherine, I work for Love What Matters, a site dedicated to celebrating love. We focus on stories that help people believe in love, hope, compassion and kindness. Additionally, we have been covered extensively by the TODAY Show, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, DailyMail, and IJReview.
I came across this blog post of yours and I think it would be perfect for the audience on our site. May I have permission to publish the story and photo on the Love What Matters Facebook page? We can tag or link the post with whatever you’d like for credit. Let me know if you’re interested – Thanks!
Hi Catherine, I would be honored to have you publish my blog post. Love What Matters is such a wonderful site.
Thank you so much!
Thank you for such a beautiful post, Andrea. Last week we were at the water park with my two kids. My 3 year old pointed and notice a kid on a wheelchsir and I saw the mother looked at me waiting to see what I had to say. I saw anguish in her look. I remembered what I read on on your blog and said ” look, he is wearing blue like you, it must be his favorite color too”. The mother nod. She smiled at Me. I saw love in her eyes. I felt proud. Most importantly, I tought my son that it is ok to be different.
This is so great. Thank you for sharing this story!