Parents of special needs children know that hope is simply the denial of reality.
I use the “river of denial” as a hope metaphor to help others understand this phenomenal ability.
As with any issue of grief there is denial. The first stage of grief begins when parents are confronted with an unplanned reality about their child. It begins with “the river of denial”. The tests are wrong, the doctor doesn’t know what they are talking about, the teacher doesn’t challenge them enough. my child is just following their own path, they just need structure. just a late bloomer, just a follower, everything is fine, lets go for a picnic, they just need love, how about camping, that sunset is beautiful, we’re just like everybody else.
Parents of special needs children go through the grief stages 2-4 quickly. Anger, bargaining, and depression can come and go like the wind they never leave and are never really resolved.
The fifth grief stage is acceptance. But here is where it gets tricky for parents of special needs children. We never fully reach this stage.
We may live in the final stage “land of acceptance” but we often visit and sometimes vacation in stage one “the river of denial”.
If our lives are privileged and events are calm and safe we may even live for months at a time “in the river of denial”.
While most parents actively compare their child to other children, even if unintentionally. Special needs parents do the opposite. We aggressively circle our child in their own bubble of progress and goals. Doing this allows us to have hope and deny reality. Without hope we would be unable to function, to care for, to procure services, to reasearch, to seek out treatment, to breathe in and out, to find joy, to laugh, to find answers.
So when people ask me, “How do they not know? Can’t they see that…? Surely they noticed that…”. I simply tell them that “the river of denial” is beautiful with its calm waters and soft sloping banks that lead to quiet sandy beaches. I myself visit often to let go of the constant responsibility of advocating for my child. When I am visiting or vacationing at “the river of denial” I can just be mom and my child can just be typical. It’s bliss pure and simple.
Our son has been doing well and is scheduled for discharge on 1/28/18. I am blissfully at “the river” with my toes firmly planted in the sand.