+
More

For parents of disabled kids, one of life's biggest struggles comes from outside the home.

Everyone knows being a parent is hard. But parenting a disabled child carries challenges you don't expect.

Many of us in this world are juggling multiple tasks at one time. On any given day, we are nurses, therapists, advocates, teachers, personal care assistants, and administrative assistants managing their endless paperwork.

When I had my son, I expected to face these day-to-day difficulties of parenting a disabled child. But the challenge I wasn't expecting came from outside the home.


For years, I have always wondered why friends seem to drop like flies from my life. What am I doing wrong? Why do I struggle making and keeping friends?

[rebelmouse-image 19533644 dam="1" original_size="2681x2361" caption="Photo by Jordan Whitt/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Jordan Whitt/Unsplash.

For some parents of disabled children, friendships can feel almost impossible to maintain.

As our children grow and we move deeper into the trenches of childhood, we sometimes find that our lives are very isolated from the world around us. We turn on our laptops, tablets, or phones and see pictures of other parents at social events, throwing elaborate parties or cheering on their kids at sports. These moments can make our stomachs sink, our hearts hurt, and remind us just how isolated our lives have become.

We are maxed out with the daily care of our children, and every aspect of our lives is wrapped up in the complications and extra fighting needed to raise our children successfully.

Most of us are trying to balance the needs of our children, and their care is so extensive we are moving from one crisis to the next on a daily basis. My son demands 100% of my attention, and due to the complexity of his care, all of my energy is focused on his treatments, appointments, researching, and managing my emotions about the toll his care takes on my psyche.

[rebelmouse-image 19533647 dam="1" original_size="5678x3884" caption="Photo by Cristian Newman/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Cristian Newman/Unsplash.

The fact is, I’m not a very good friend.

I don’t have a lot of free time. My schedule is always changing, and it is impossible for me to keep plans. My son’s care wears me out physically and emotionally. Due to the high-stress life I lead, I am short of patience, and I can get easily annoyed by people. I say things I don’t mean out of frustration, and I take well-meaning comments too personally.

On the rare opportunity I can stick to my plans, the thought of socializing leaves me with a deep sense of anxiety. I know that I will have to talk about my life, and talking about my life makes me feel exhausted. When I have a chance to get away from my house, the last thing I want to do is talk about what is going on in my life.

Frequently the events I attend are in larger groups, and the conversation is small talk related to raising children. Parents want to talk about their children, and for many, it’s a way to bond. They commiserate about the woes of parenting. Yet, I always feel like an outsider because I don’t relate to their stories, and I have little of my own to contribute. I’m often lost in my thoughts, completely preoccupied with what I need to do for my son.

[rebelmouse-image 19533648 dam="1" original_size="5616x3744" caption="Photo by Megan Lewis/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Megan Lewis/Unsplash.

I might be near people, but I’m a million miles away.

I listen to amazing stories about vacations, outings, and all the milestones that their children have accomplished. When I hear others having wonderful lives full of happy memories, I find that I sink further away from the conversation. I nod my head and smile, but inside I’m screaming because our lives are so different and it feels so unfair. My son hasn’t met those milestones, we never go on vacation, and our lives are spent moving from one office to another for appointments.

If I do speak, I know that I will have to share our journey. Talking to anyone about our life has a way of making me feel incredibly anxious. After the stress of a day caring for him, I don’t want to recap what is going on, nor do I want to answer questions. I also don’t want anyone feeling sorry for us. More often than not, I find myself not saying much at all.

Eventually, the night ends. I feel depleted, sad, and I am reminded how out of place I feel in the world. I push everyone away from me because it is so hard to be around anyone. I don’t like being reminded our life is different, and I can’t handle how that realization makes me feel. Selfishly I can’t focus my energy on anyone other than my child, and helping friends navigate their problems is impossible for me. I realize I just cannot be the friend I need to be.

Texts go unreturned, I stop answering messages and emails on my social media, and I quit accepting invites or attending events. The truth is I push everyone away because I’m emotionally drained by my feelings. I know our life is different, I hate that my child is dealing with so much adversity, and I can’t relate to anyone around me.

In the end, friendships dissolve because I can’t contribute, keep plans, or give anything to anyone other than my son.

I’ve learned over the years that I’m not alone in my feelings.

Other parents of disabled children have shared these same feelings with me. The lives of parents of disabled children are not typical, and we are keenly aware of our differences.

Our lives are filled with appointments, therapy, and endless paperwork that will take us away from the world as we care for our children. We are not readily accessible to our friends for long periods of time. Many of us feel incredibly guilty for not being better friends, but most of us accept that we are incapable of nurturing meaningful relationships outside of our immediate family.

We wish more than anything that people understood that even though we can’t always be there for people — we desperately need them in our lives. Even though we can’t go to events, we wish people would remember to invite us. We wish we didn’t feel so out of place, and hope that one day we will find someone who gets our life.

More importantly, we wish we were capable of being better friends, and that we could relate to other parents. Our lives as parents of disabled children make having friendship a tough challenge, and for many of us giving up is more natural than fighting.

We fight for everything for our children, so when it comes to the fight to maintain relationships, we need a little more help from our friends.

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less
Celebrity

Philadelphia Eagles player is bringing his pregnant wife’s OBGYN to the Super Bowl, just in case

Kylie McDevitt's OBGYN is packing a bag to join the NFL star's wife, just in case baby Kelce decides to see the game too.

Philadelphia Eagles player is bringing his pregnant wife's OBGYN to the Super Bowl

Having a baby is an intimate, vulnerable experience, so people get pretty attached to their healthcare providers. I've met women who have planned an induction to have their baby with their preferred doctor and not whoever would be on call if they went into labor naturally. So it may not be a surprise to birthing people that Kylie McDevitt, Philadelphia Eagles player, Jason Kelce's wife, isn't taking any chances when she travels to Arizona for the Super Bowl.

Kelce made headlines with his brother Travis recently when it was revealed that the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs would be facing off for the Super Bowl, making the pair the first brothers to compete against each other for a ring. It seems that McDevitt didn't want to miss the history-making moment, even though she'll be two weeks shy of the standard 40 weeks of pregnancy.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by alevision.co on Unsplash/ @camerconstewart_uk/Instagram

"Sometimes it pays to learn a language!"

It feels safe to assume that if money were no object, people would always choose to travel business class over economy. After all, who doesn’t want a fast check-in, fancy food and drink choices and more of that sweet, spacious legroom?

However, at anywhere between four to ten times the price of a regular economy ticket, this style of traveling remains a fantasy for many who simply can’t afford it.

Luckily, thanks to one man’s clever travel hack, that fantasy might be more achievable than we realize.

Cameron Stewart, a British photojournalist and camera operator, recently shared how he was able to score business class tickets at a fraction of the price, simply by switching the website language from English to Spanish.
Keep ReadingShow less

Tater Tots, fresh out of the oven.

It’s hard to imagine growing up in America without Tater Tots. They are one of the most popular kiddie foods, right up there with chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. The funny thing is the only reason Tater Tots exist is that their creators needed something to do with leftover food waste.

The Tater Tot is the brainchild of two Mormon brothers, F. Nephi and Golden Grigg, who started a factory on the Oregon-Idaho border that they appropriately named Ore-Ida. The brothers started the factory in 1951 after being convinced that frozen foods were the next big thing.

According to Eater, between 1945 and 1946, Americans bought 800 million pounds of frozen food.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Developmental scientist shared her 'anti-parenting advice' and parents are relieved

In a viral Twitter thread, Dorsa Amir addresses the "extreme pressure put on parents in the West."

Photo by kabita Darlami on Unsplash, @DorsaAmir/Twitter

Parents, maybe give yourselves a break

For every grain of sand on all the world’s beaches, for every star in the known universe…there is a piece of well-intentioned but possibly stress-inducing parenting advice.

Whether it’s the astounding number of hidden dangers that parents might be unwittingly exposing their child to, or the myriad ways they might be missing on maximizing every moment of interaction, the internet is teeming with so much information that it can be impossible for parents to feel like they’re doing enough to protect and nurture their kids.

However, developmental scientist and mom Dorsa Amir has a bit of “anti-parenting advice” that help parents worry a little less about how they’re measuring up.

First and foremost—not everything has to be a learning opportunity. Honestly, this wisdom also applies to adults who feel the need to be consistently productive…raises hand while doing taxes and listening to a podcast on personal development
Keep ReadingShow less