Why I Cried At A Park For 20 minutes...And You Should Too

Last week, I packed up our snack box (Amazon) and we headed to a local park. I picked this park in particular because it had a few playgrounds that were somewhat accessible for my son's walker. After parking and schlepping his stroller (for if he got tired), diaper bag (Amazon) (snacks & toys), walker (Amazon) (& leg braces), and him down to the actual park structure, he decided to completely ignore any grown up logic and off-road himself into the dirt & woodchips.

I could feel myself getting frustrated. I was the only parent with so much stuff and there was not another child like my son to be seen. Able-bodied kids ran, jumped, yelled, climbed, and were living their best lives during arguably the most beautiful day of the summer.

I tried to set my son up on his feet and point out all of the equipment that was at his height. I was blissfully ignored and homeboy went right back to dirt. It wasn't even CLEAN dirt. It was a patch of once-beautiful landscaping that had fallen bare after years of tiny feet dancing over it.



I chose my battle and resigned us to the sandbox. At least the dirt was clean there.

After getting all the stuff situated and taking off my son's leg braces (sand is a big no-no!), I had nothing but time to reflect while watching him play in his own world. I became quickly aware of the throngs of children, upright, and speaking.

Then it hit me. I was completely alone, despite being completely surrounded. No one looked like me, a working pack horse. No one looked like my son- braces, walker, wheelchair... nothing.

I. Felt. Awful. Jealousy, anger, grief, & pain swept over me and I found myself wiping my snot at an alarming rate. My perfectly imperfect son blissfully unaware as he was moving sand from one side of his lap to the other. Everywhere I turned I was reminded of our struggle. Babies younger than my son squatting & toddling. Kids his age asking for something. Older kids directing there own make-believe while sitting atop a large climbing structure shaped like a mushroom.

It all hurt. It was all pain. And I cried.

I cried because I was jealous, angry, frustrated, hungry (just being honest...), and embarrassed.

Thoughts that went through my head included:

  1. Must be nice to have your kid answer you when you ask a question.

  2. I wish my kid could squat like that baby over there.

  3. I bet people think I'm crazy for crying in a sandbox.

  4. Thank you Jesus for my sunglasses.

  5. Look at her just run across the grass like that.

  6. Why aren't there any kids with wheels (walker/wheelchairs) here?

  7. So. Many. Kids.

  8. Ok but really, I wouldn't let my kids get naked here.

  9. It's really fun to listen to that little boy narrate his game in the sand.

  10. My son is one of 300 known cases in the world and all of these people don't see that.

  11. Why does it feel like I'm completely alone yet surrounded by people? This is awful.

  12. Dude, you almost stepped on my kid. Go away. I will body slam you into oblivion if you step on his fingers.

  13. Stop crying. It's a beautiful day and you're wasting it when you should be playing with your kid.

It finally started to clear out as lunchtime approached and I was offered a moment of clarity as a result.

These feelings, the hard feelings, are not bad- they are in fact, normal.

See, when you're a momma of a child with a rare disease (or a disability) you go through the process of grief. You'll go through it at your own pace and it won't be linear. This process of grief will be mourning for the "what should have been". No one askes to walk this harder path. It's absolutely expected that you will have dreamed this beautiful future for your child full of park dates, field trips, and graduations, just to name a few milestones. But those dreams look a lot different in real life. And that pain, that hurt, that is grief. It is real. It is normal. It is valid.

According to PsychologyToday.com, some of the possible signs of not grieving include anger, continued obsessing, hyper-alertness, behavioral overreaction, addiction, and numbness/depression. Yeah, don't stuff that grief down. It' ain't worth it in the long term.

When you choose to embrace the hard emotions, you are holding a space for yourself to heal.

That raw emotional wound will slowly heal and eventually turn into a scar.


So this one's for you Zebra Momma. You have full permission to cry in the park. To be hurt and angry and wipe your snot on your t-shirt. To wear your heart on your sleeve. To go to sleep crying and wake up puffy-faced. To wish for "normal." To be jealous of the parents whose kids talk back to them. To say a silent prayer for grace and sniffle and smile at your little one. It won't always be like this.

I'm here for you and we can do hard things.

-K

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