I am a fraud. I have been for a while. It wasn’t purposeful, but it still feels like a crime. Most fraud offenses are considered a felony crime and come with punishments that can range from fines to jail time. Consequences for my fraudulent activities, are considerably more personal.
When you are a special needs parent, you are given this automatic street ‘cred’. Everyone assumes you know what you are doing. They say things like, “I could never do what you do” and “God only gives people what he KNOWS they can a handle.” I know these things are said with (sometimes) the best intentions, but they are so massively cringe-worthy. What do you mean you could never do what I do? What would you do? If I can’t handle this, what does that say about me?
Complete strangers have come up to me and told me what a good mom I am. Let that sink in. People who know nothing about me other than that I am shopping with my 3-year-old non-verbal son who is making his way around Target in his walker. This is what makes me a good mom?
LET THE PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME
Here is where the fraud kicks in. I smile. I make a joke about how much coffee and/or wine I drink. Lacing my rant with jokes and self-deprecating humor. If I can keep them smiling and laughing, they won’t see through me. I engage and word things in acceptable ways. My patience seems endless to the outside world. However, when the doors close and the lights go off for the day, my deception becomes clear.
I am weary, scared of the unknown. My dreams turn on me and show a world where his additional needs don’t exist. How is that being a good mom? Dreaming your son was something that he is not. I am weak and I crumble. This chicanery is starting to take its toll. In all honesty, sometimes I need to escape from it. I have escaped through alcohol, working out or various other hobbies. None of them work. I have escaped by keeping people at arms distance and not showing them me. To continue to exist like this is difficult, but there is no other option. If I were to stop the double-dealing, I fear what would happen. Would people pity us? Would people feel sorry for my son? He deserves better than that.
So my punishment for my fraud is to continue this unending quest on how to co-exist with my love for my son and my fear that people, and maybe even my son himself, will see I am not fit to be his mother.