“‘At least he doesn’t…’
As a special needs parent, I hear this all the time.
When you ‘at least’ me as a complex parent,
I feel minimized.
I feel shut up.
I feel shut down.
I feel unheard.
I feel compared.
I feel invalidated.
I don’t let very many people into our lives, at least not in person. Mostly because I’m spent.
I’ve been spent for a darn long time. And one of the reasons I’m spent is because of things like ‘at least.’
I know people mean well, I give them the benefit of the doubt.
And I also realize the person in front of me is not responsible for all of the ‘at leasts’ that have gone before them.
But each one takes a little slice out of me, and those slices don’t exactly fill right back in.
I started feeling pretty hollow after awhile.
I know things could be worse. Oh boy, do I know.
I know some other people’s battles are big and hard, and believe me, I feel for them.
None of us is participating for a trophy.
None of us looks at other familes’ situations and line us up in descending order of easiest to hardest in order to keep track.
No two families have the same dynamics, or the same ability to cope.
If someone is trying to push a car up a hill do you say, ‘At least it’s not a minivan’?
If someone is running 50 miles, do you say, ‘At least you don’t have to bike 100’?
If someone is clinging to a rope by their fingertips, do you say, ‘At least you aren’t clinging to a chain’?
If a person gives you a glimpse of their challenges, whether it’s parenting or otherwise, honor their experience.
Validate them. Meet them where they are.
If you can’t think of anything else to say, ‘Can I get you coffee or tea?’ always works.”
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