Welcome to Day 2 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.
Last year, we experienced a difficult but eye-opening hospital stay.
We were admitted during the night and placed in a confined room with 3 other families. I could only hear hysterical children crying and coughing. Their exasperated parents tried to soothe them only to crash with a too-loud sigh. I couldn’t see our roommates until the next morning.
Eventually, I was deep in conversation with another parent sharing the room. He curiously peered through the curtain, smiled and apologized for his son’s sleepless night. He then shared his son’s cochlear-implant-gone-wrong story.
He concluded with, “It could have been worse. That poor boy next to your son has a difficult life. He’s disabled.”
I sympathized with his story, and said, “My son is disabled, too.”
That’s when he got a good look at him and realized that my son was not laying in bed simply because he was tired. He was in bed because he couldn’t easily run off like his son did throughout the night.
I was not hurt by his words. That’s because while he was talking, I was too busy thinking, “It could have been worse. At least our son can hear.”
In my eyes, his son was disabled, too.
I spent the better part of the day thinking about how we compare ourselves to others and how we try to find the silver lining by insisting our situation isn’t as bad as theirs.
I’ve done this since my son’s birth. He has severe disabilities and delays, and while I know other parents consider him their “worse,” I am guilty of having thought:
- It could have been worse. At least it’s not life-threatening.
- It could have been worse. At least he can make eye contact.
- It could have been worse. At least he can communicate.
- It could have been worse. At least he can move about.
- It could have been worse. At least he eats by mouth.
- It could have been worse. At least he’s home with us.
The thing with comparing our situation to others is that it’s all so subjective.
No one has an easy life.
We are all someone else’s “worse”.