Motherhood is by far the hardest job I’ve ever taken on…and there have been many days I’ve felt alone on this journey.
I remember when my oldest was born. I would get together with other new moms with children about the same age. We would share all the wonderful things our children were doing, especially all those development milestones. There was a little girl born just a few weeks after my daughter, and I remember her mom sharing something that her daughter was doing that my child had yet to accomplish. I started wondering, is there something wrong? Why isn’t my child doing this yet? Hindsight (and four children later!) I realize there was nothing ‘wrong’ with my child…within a few weeks, she was behaving the same as that child and I just needed to be patient. Just as I often fall into the comparison trap with the way I look and my fitness journey, I have a tendency to fall into the comparison trap as a parent too.
As my children have grown, though, I only share their accomplishments, and often keep their struggles to myself. I did (and still do) this in part because I want to protect my children’s privacy. My children are growing up in an era where their whole lives will be documented through social media. I don’t want the world to know their struggles. And I think other mamas may feel similarly: we want to celebrate our children’s accomplishments and downplay their struggles.
I attended a Moms Retreat last October where Sally Clarkson was the featured speaker. She started talking about this book she and her 27-year-old son, Nathan, were writing together. She shared struggles she had when Nathan was a little boy, how he wasn’t like her two older children and just pushed her buttons. She could have been talking about me! There was a time not so long ago in our home, where every single day was a struggle, with one of our children in particular. I thought this child was being stubborn, or maybe it was a maturity issue. I blamed myself. I felt like a failure as a mama. I considered whether a formal school environment would be better for my children. I felt very alone on this journey, even as we sought professional help. As Sally described her own struggles, I knew I needed this book…but it wasn’t finished yet and I had to wait a few more months.
Well, the time has come! Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom who Loved Him is now available (you can order your book on Amazon here). I had the opportunity to read the first few chapters before the book was released, and now that I’ve got the book in my hands I can’t wait to finish it. The book is written from both Nathan and Sally’s perspectives. It is so helpful to read Nathan’s perspective in each chapter, because it gives me a better understanding of my own child. Nathan initiated the idea of writing this book because he saw how he could help others struggling with the same things he has struggled with his entire life. I am so grateful they have written this book and know it will help many parents like me as we walk this journey of raising our own ‘outside the box’ children. As Nathan said in a recent interview, we’re all different…his differences were just a little louder than others.
Even if you and your family are ‘normal’ this book will help you become more compassionate towards families who may be struggling to raise their own unique children and those in your life who are ‘different.’