An Open Letter on Parenting: Our Not-So-Different Paths and Choices

An Open Letter on Parenting: Our Not-So-Different Paths and Choices

Dear Fellow Parents,

As we navigate the new school year, it's often easy to become engulfed in the tiny details that fill our days – from rushed breakfasts to the hectic school drop-offs and the bedtime routines that sometimes take an hour or more to conclude.  Parenting, in any form, is challenging, unpredictable, and filled with both rewards and setbacks.  

Parenting a child with unique challenges, whether they're medical, emotional, or learning-related, can sometimes make us feel like we're on an island. Everyday activities turn into intricate plans. Take something simple like going to a public event; we have to gauge how crowded it might be and whether that will overwhelm our child. School choices aren't just about public vs. private or which place has the best sports programs. For us, it's also about how the environment might affect our child's well-being. And let's not even get started on balancing physical health against emotional health; that's a constant seesaw we're navigating.

These decisions can really wear you down over time. All of that "decision fatigue," is mentally draining. We're not asking for pity here. Instead, we're inviting you to put yourself in our shoes for a moment. Think about how you'd feel if almost every choice you make could directly impact your child's health or emotional stability.

Our day begins much like yours—breakfasts to prepare, lunches to pack, and schedules to manage. But interspersed among these mundane tasks are moments you might not experience. The word "routine" takes on a different meaning when you have a child with chronic illness or condition. Our routines include not just meals, school, and bedtimes, but also medications, symptoms tracking, therapies, and a myriad of specialists.

Imagine your child having to miss out on school not for a treat or family outing but for another round of medical tests. Picture them coming home, not with tales of playground games, but experiences of being different, set apart by conditions they neither chose nor can escape. Our children face these hurdles regularly.  

“I am genuinely thankful when I see any child enjoying the simple pleasures of life—running freely, laughing without restraint, or simply being a kid. However, when I consider this alternative reality that isn’t ours, I sometimes get sad.”

Parents of children without a complex situation have their own unique set of challenges that may not be visible to the casual observer. In today's competitive and fast-paced world, there can be enormous pressure to keep up—to ensure that your kids excel academically, socially, and even athletically. The quest for the perfect balance between school, extracurricular activities, and social life is a stressor that weighs heavily on many families.

I've been guilty of judging others for their fast-paced, on-the-go life, wondering how they could miss the opportunity to pause and appreciate the smaller moments. But that's as unfair of me as it would be for others to judge us for our often limited social calendar. We're all doing the best we can with what we've got. 

While my family might not be juggling soccer practice with ballet and advanced math classes, I understand the stress of wanting to give your children every opportunity to succeed and fit in. The choices you make in trying to enrich your child's life are made with the same love and concern that guide my choices for my own child's well-being.

“Somebody always has it better and someone always has it worse.”

Today is an invitation to step into one another's shoes; whether you are a parent of a child with a chronic condition or not. While our experiences might seem different on the surface, we may discover that our paths and choices as parents are more aligned than imagined.

It is in our shared humanity—our ability to offer compassion, understanding, and support—that makes us all fundamentally the same.  Our routines and stressors may be different, but our hopes for our children—to be included, to be understood, and to be valued—are the same.

Here’s to a future of greater understanding and empathy, not just for our children but for each other as parents. Let's honor each other's choices and challenges, recognizing that what unites us as parents far outweighs any differences in our experiences or paths.

We all look forward to a world where all our children grow up embraced for who they are, complete with their unique challenges and triumphs.


A Fellow Parent on a Not-So-Different Path Making Not-So-Different Choices