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Fraud, Party of One: Parenting Special Needs Style

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? 


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.

4 Responses to Fraud, Party of One: Parenting Special Needs Style

  1. Cindy Flach November 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

    Sarah, thank you for putting your thoughts and feelings out there for all of us to learn. You are an inspiration and I admire you.

  2. Mary Ann Silness November 2, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

    Your honesty educates, Sarah. Keep going. Always.

  3. Lisa November 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    I am a mom of a special needs little boy who is 5 years old. Every day is hard…every day. It is lonely and difficult. Hard to keep it together sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Take things one day at a time and enjoy the little things and little accomplishments that come along the way. You don’t owe anyone explanations for what you do or don’t do. I appreciate your honesty and coming forward with your fears. That is very brave.

  4. Suzanne Hines November 14, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    This is so beautiful and raw. I love your honesty and appreciate it so much. I do not have any special needs children (yet…who knows what the future holds), but I can relate to feeling much of this in the world of foster care, too. People make comments that are well-meaning but really just hurt.