Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do NOT Pity Me

Following our normal post-Thanksgiving tradition, the kids and I headed out pretty early last Friday for some Black Friday shopping. I love finding deals, but I also love the experience of moving along with a crazed crowd searching for an item that you know will cost less after the first of the year.

I wrote last year about our Black Friday experience and the problems we had navigating some stores with a wheelchair. It was interesting to me that this year things were a little easier. I wonder if all those store managers read my blog?

Since the navigating part of our Black Friday experience was easier this year, I was able to spend sometime people-watching. I saw lots of different ‘looks’ on the shopper’s faces – worry, excitement, the thrill of the hunt – but I also saw something that bothered me. I saw pity and sadness whenever a shopper would look at me pushing Ashley through the store.

Over the years, I have learned to deal with people feeling sorry for Ashley. I usually scoff a bit and enlighten them on some of Ashley’s antics. I share how she is much more like her peers than different, and it usually works. People would walk away with a good bit of the pity look wiped off their face. But this time the pity seemed directed at me.

It hit me pretty hard. Do people feel sorry for me that I have a daughter in a wheelchair? Do they believe my life is less than good because of that? Do they think I have regrets and dream about the child Ashley could have been had her birthmother not been an alcoholic?

I wish all those people with their pitying looks could read this blog. I wish they could understand that my life is complete, not unfulfilled, because I have a child with a significant disability. I wish they could spend a day with us and see that we are a joyful and more typical family than they think. I wish I could tell them that I am happier then I ever dreamed possible BECAUSE I have a child with a disability.

Here’s hoping some of them will read this blog, and will then understand.

Today I am thankful that Ashley's birthmother agreed to place her for adoption


Queenbuv3 said...

I know what you mean about people pitying you because your child isn't "normal". I too have more joy and fulfillment because of my son having Autism than if he were a typical boy.

I too wish people could see my family at home and see how loving and happy our family is.

We definitley need more positive represention of families with special needs children.

Ashley and your other children are so blessed to have you. You have my respect and admiration, not my pity ; )

Corrie Howe said...

I'm hopeful that the stores did read your blog and make changes...or read letters from customers, etc.

It is great to hear your perspective as a mother who is happy because of the joys in raising her children with special abilities.

By the way, it has come to my attention that some of my friends have lost me when I moved to www.mypickletalksautism.com. Just wanted to let you know in case you lost me too.

VMI said...

Well said.

MMC said...

Life was very challenging for the first 10 years of so of the Blue Jayès life because she was in the hospital so much (usually 3 times a year) due to her seizures. And then there were her other issues, of course.

When she was about 5 or 6, a very close long-time friend made a comment to the effect that my life must be so very hard and how sad or awful or something like that it was to have a child like the Blue Jay. Maybe not presented quite so harshly but that was the gist of it.

I never directly responded to the comment but it always bothered me at some level. My friend doesnèt live nearby so we only see one another once a year or less. That probably explains some of her attitude - she never gets to see a full picture of my life. Funny though, as close as we are, I would have expected her to have a better picture.

Marie said...

The more you get out there with Ashley the more people will know. I think the best thing we can do is get out in public and let people see us living our lives. Seeing is so much better than telling.