The topic of differences surrounds us.
From the time of the first diagnosis 11 years ago and so many after, we've been living different.
We're different from our circle of friends and family. Our kids are different from their peers. Different. Always different. It's come up a lot because now that our daughter is 10, it's becoming all too noticable to her that she is different. We didn't have these struggles with our son, well, because he has never really cared what people thought about him -- a trait that has and will serve him well.
For our girl, though, it's harder. We had a recent conversation when she got into the car after school and it very nearly broke my heart in two. I knew this day would come; the day she knew she was different and it wouldn't be the acceptance of the beauty in differences.
Not unlike my daughter, I too had to learn to accept my own differences. As a parent to kids with medical, physical, and developmental disabilities, I've spent a lot of time adjusting to the differences that come along with having this life.
I've adjusted my own dreams and made new ones. I've lost friends because of the differences in our family -- I've cut loose friends who were judgemental and I've accepted people into my life for the benefit of the kids. My life morphed into the person who goes with the flow; very different from the person who liked to know what would happen and when.
Having kids with disabilities will do that you know. it'll make you do things, say things you never thought you would. It'll make you stronger, more fragile, more serious, more thankful. It'll make you feel more sadness and experience more joy than our typical peers.
Over the years I've learned that differences aren't all bad. I can only hope my daughter will feel the same way, someday, just a little bit. And I hope that day is sooner, not later.
Julia blogs about her family at Kidneys and Eyes and is on Twitter at juliaroberts1. She co-founded Support for Special Needs; a social network for families of kids with special needs. She can be found writing humor (ha!) at Aiming Low and scouring her fridge for the last cold diet coke and selling funny goods at Slice of Crazy Pie.