Why Special Needs Moms Don’t Fit In

Why Special Needs Moms Don’t Fit In November 17, 2018
Sad woman feeling alone walking between people on the street


When I look back on my childhood, one of the most common memories I have is of wanting desperately to have a group. There was an insatiable need for me to feel as if I belonged to something. Most of us have this desire and want to feel like we have a tribe or group.

As we grow to become adults, most of us become separated from friendships of our childhood. We enter the world that isn’t always nice. Many of us don’t feel like we have a place where we belong.

Then you enter the world of becoming a mom.

Mom world is an extraordinary place to live. Our lives shift from our needs to our kids. We rarely have time to invest in our interests.

We spend our lives shuttling our children to their appointments, games, school, and playdates. Our clothes change from expensive jeans and cute tops to stretchy yoga pants and $5 tanks we find at Walmart while we are grocery shopping.

There are some days we don’t have time to shower, or we forget to shower all together. Going to the bathroom by ourselves is a luxury that rarely seems to happen. Sometimes we hide in the bathroom for five single minutes of peace.

When our children sneeze, we often use our shirts to wipe their noses. Our kids spill drinks, food, and paint all over our beautiful things. We realize that having beautiful things is no longer an option. Sometimes instead of picking up the mess, we move furniture to cover it up.

Mom life is not comfortable, and most of us are stretched thin with not a lot of sleep, not enough money, and not enough free time for ourselves.

Somehow as we navigate the world, most of us start to find a grove and a place where we feel like we fit in. However, there are a group of moms, like me, that don’t feel like they fit in anywhere.

Mothers in the special needs community, often feel like they are the outliers of the mom community.

Our kids aren’t typical enough to be in sports or go to playdates. For most of us, getting out of the house is a trip to therapy, a doctor’s appointment, or running to the next IEP meeting for our child.

We fill our calendars with doctor appointments, medical paperwork, therapy homework, medication schedules, and researching education rights and laws.

We try to go on play dates so our children can make and build memories. Most of us have to bring medical equipment, medication, or specific items to keep our children from melting down or creating a scene in public.

Over time, we begin to realize that the events that are fun for other families aren’t fun for our children. Staying home becomes easier than going out into the world.

Our lives become isolated.

Inside our hearts, we are craving connection, community and a sense of belonging. We can’t seem to find the place where we are understood by others. Instead, we get dirty looks and are asked inappropriate questions by strangers.

Many of us begin to wonder if there is even a place for us in this world we call Mom.

Since many of our children aren’t involved in sports, extra-curricular activities, and many aren’t able to be left unattended; our lives begin to revolve around meeting people where we take our children.

We start to befriend moms in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Many of us strike up conversations with others while we wait for our kids in therapy.

At home, we log into social media and join groups related to our child’s diagnosis. We hope to find anyone that will understand our world. All we want are friends that we can talk to about life. Friends that know what it’s like to raise a child like ours. Someone that can help us feel normal in an abnormal situation.

Many of us get invested in the online friendships and groups because it is the only place we feel like we are heard, understood, and where we no longer stick out like a sore thumb.

We become tight in our online friendships as we share the intimate details of our lives in these groups. For many of us, it is the first and only time we have ever felt a sense of community. There is hope in our hearts knowing that we can log in at any time and find someone that will understand the frustration we feel.

We find others that can celebrate the small victories with us.  The friends we form online help us when we feel weak and our lives bring us to our knees.

Many of us will never meet in person, but it doesn’t mean the bond and the connection with the other mother isn’t there. Our friendship is just as meaningful.

While we can find comfort in the fact that there is always someone online for us, we still struggle with not having anyone walking next to us in this world.

All we want are friends.

Sure, our children are complex, and we can’t always make plans. We break plans a lot because things can change in an instant with their behavior or their health.

However, we promise we will be a GOOD friend if you just let us try.

No, we don’t always know what the “kids are into” or the sports your child plays, but we still are a mom dealing with similar stresses and emotions. We are stretched thin just like most, and the only thing different is our kids maybe don’t play the same as others.

All we want is a friend that will be ok with our differences, not scared of our children, and willing to learn about our life.  The bulk of us have so much to offer our friends, but we can’t find anyone that wants our gifts.

We are knowledgeable about children development, medical issues and the ins and outs of special education. We are great listeners, and can always offer you advice if it’s what you need.

Most of us have great senses of humor because our lives are a comedy of daily errors. There is so much for us to share – we need someone that wants what we have.

Are you willing to walk with us on this journey of motherhood?

Can you help us feel like we fit in, so we aren’t stuck online for the bulk of the day?

Are you willing to step up and step out of your comfort zone and realize that even though our kids are different, we can still offer you a beautiful friendship?

We desperately need to link arms with other mothers that are in our community.

Will you be the one that helps us finally belong?

Please let us finally belong.


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  • Some of my friends are moms of children with special needs – all different scenarios, but each has learned to be a courageous advocate for their child. Some of these kids are now young adults, each facing the world as their abilities allow.

    It must be extra hard for you as you cannot go out much anymore.

  • My life is online these days. I’m also a tennis coach. So my social life is coaching. And then writing is my therapy and job 🙂

  • Writing is great therapy – that has been researched

  • It’s fun to get paid to do my therapy! 🙂

  • Audrey

    Oh you wrote the story of all special needs parents. As a grandmother who raised 2 grandchildren are and we have redefined our “Golden Years” again by adopting 2 of their children. We need others who will truly accept us and our often chaotic lives. We cancel plans at the last minute, leave events early and just give up and don’t make plans except to stay home where it’s safe. Thank you for sharing.

  • You are very, very welcome!

  • Diane Jankowski

    It’s very difficult to trust anyone online with any details of my life or my sons. My mind floats back to the poor young man who was abused because he was white, I don’t blame others for the offenses of the guilty parties but I still worry. Every mom worries about child abduction, I used to joke that they’d bring my son right back. But I do think it is a honest worry. Even though my son is now a young adult. There are so many things that kids like mine will not have, they won’t get married and have their own kids. Then there’s the whole R thing, sorry I’m rambling. The R thing that just makes my heart cry, I have even heard my sister’s say it. The thing is that sometimes when we are out and about, I get two kinds of looks one not so nice and one pitying me and my son. The latter is sometimes ok, the former no thanks. Sorry for my rambling thoughts, I have a lot going on, just like all of you.

  • Dan Houseworth

    Im going to start taking Danny t Museums. It’s very Peaceful.