You'd think we'd have tougher skin, us parents of special needs kids.
You'd think after we hear time and time again how our kids are 'not enough': not 'smart' enough, not 'compliant' enough, not 'good' enough... that we would grow leathery tough skin. Sunburned-cowboy tough skin. Superman-of-steel tough skin. The kind of skin that doesn't prick and doesn't bleed. Skin that acts like armor and deflects all the intended and unintended slights the world aims at our babies.
Yet, there are always chinks in that armor. The little crevices of soft flesh that apparently beg for the wounds. And people always seem to find those chinks, and aim those poison arrows there whilst we aren't ready and armed for battle. When our guard is down. On the rare occasions our guard is down. And all they need to say is one word, one sentence, and ugh... it is like a blast into the heart. Suddenly, what once was joyful and peaceful and good becomes tainted, and I want to stay far and fast away from it, lest I get another glancing blow.
That is how we can become islands, building walls between us and the world that seems to have no room for us and our babies. What a cold place that the world becomes.
But here is the thing... we can't do that. We can't do it to our babies, and we can't do it to ourselves. Indeed, the world may be made up of unthinking people or straight up *ss*oles, but shuttering ourselves away only hurts us. Because as we lose the world, the world also loses us. We don't change the world, or their perception of us in the world, but making ourselves invisible. We must be visible, and we must be vital, and we must be loud, and we must be relevant.
So we don the armor again and go forward, shielding our babies as best we can and preparing them to be able to fight their own battles and demand their own respect. Maybe that is all we can do.