We all know it to be true: comparison is the thief of joy. Parents of special children know that twinge in our gut that immediately follows a comparison. It’s a twinge of pain and guilt. I know that I can’t compare our children to yours, but sometimes I still do.
I see your child trying to interact with mine in the waiting room. He tries repeatedly to get my child’s attention while my child shows no interest, or doesn’t even notice at all. When I see that our children are about the same age, I feel that twinge in my gut. I immediately regret that the comparison even entered my mind, because I know that I can’t compare my child to yours.
I hear about your family going to an event that I know would be too much for my children. I feel the twinge as I wonder if I’m being a good enough parent, allowing them to experience as many things as neurotypical children.
I see a picture of your child’s artwork. You have every right to be proud of the drawing. Neatly colored, figures that look like people, and their name scrawled across the top of the page. How awesome that your child made that! I’m happy for you, but I feel the twinge. I immediately regret it. We’ve made great strides with holding a writing instrument, pressing hard enough on the paper, and making letters that really look like the letters of the alphabet. I’m proud of that progress.
I hear about your child’s sports practices. It’s so great that they’re involved in a team activity! Oh, there’s that twinge again. My child’s therapy schedule doesn’t allow for sports. Even if it did, I’m unsure the motor skills and processing ability would allow for success in a team activity. But did you know they learned how to pedal a bike or aren’t tripping as much as they used to?
Our children are on a different developmental journey. I try desperately not to compare. I have gotten much better at that over the past couple of years, but that twinge of comparison can still take my breath away. I adore our special children. I am learning so much from their challenges and their successes. They push their own limits and bust through their own anxieties every single day. Some days, it is really hard. Every day, they are my heroes.