Regular moms vs Special needs moms - Parents speak up

When we put out Regular moms vs Special needs moms, we invited other special needs parents to write their own take on how having a special needs child has changed their perspective on day to day living. You did not disappoint. These responses are more thoughtful than our light-hearted original and reflect just a little slice of our lives.

Some exuberant parents, eager to share, posted the piece on regular parenting sites.  They got an earful from a few moms who felt it implied that their lives were easy.  To those moms I say that our life experiences are the sum of who we are.  A regular mom really is busy until something happens (e.g. medical hardship, taking care of a parent, financial troubles) that changes her perception.

As special needs parents we have been given extra challenges in our lives and have risen to that challenge.  I have no doubt other mothers would do the same if put in that situation, although I hope they never have to.  It is my hope that if you are a parent of a healthy, non-disabled child who is friends with a special needs parent, that you will take the time to better understand their world. We are not looking for sympathy but we do appreciate the support of your friendship one mom to another.

by Dawn Villarreal, One Place for Special Needs

moms are special

Here are new responses from special needs moms and dads around the country and beyond:

Regular moms worry about getting their kids to all their classmates birthday parties throughout the year.
Special needs moms pray their child gets invited to at least one birthday party.

Regular moms worry about fat and sugar in their children's diets.
Special needs moms worry about gluten, casein, oxalates and have a working knowledge of (FDA approved) food additives.


Regular dads spend a week teaching their sons to pee in the potty and maybe a month teaching them to poop.
Special needs dads keep trying, sometimes for several years.
--From Michael


Regular moms volunteer in the classroom to help out.
Special needs moms volunteer so they can take notes on whether the school program is appropriate for their child.
--From Petra


Regular moms look forward to an "empty nest."
Special needs moms wonder who will take care of their kids after they're gone.
--From Elizabeth


Regular moms read their children stories.
Special needs moms read their children social stories.
--From Steph


Regular moms have the numbers of their friends programmed into their cell phones.
Special needs moms have the numbers of their child's specialists programmed in theirs.
--From Kate


Regular moms try to cope and accept their child's imperfections.
Special needs moms whose children are labeled imperfect or defective, nurture them to the full beautiful gifts from God that they are.
--From Jannine


Regular moms’ kids are mildly afraid of the dentist.
Special needs moms’ kids are so terrified, 9 out of 10 dentists will ask them not to come back.
From Judy

Regular moms don't cry themselves to sleep thinking about the child's future.
Special needs moms do cry thinking about if she is ever going to walk, speak, chew food, gain weight, need a feeding tube, etc.


Regular moms sign their kids up for all kinds of extra-curricular activities.
Special needs moms hope their local park district will accept their child for an activity.
--From Angela


Regular moms think inclusion means an all inclusive vacation.
Special needs moms fight for their child's inclusion at school, workplace and the community.
--From Dawn


Regular moms are called mom by their kids.
Special needs moms are called "mom" by their child's doctors, nurses, hippotherapy volunteers and therapy office receptionists as in, "Mom, can you restrain junior for a minute?"
--From Petra


Regular dads wrestle with their boys for play.
Special needs dads worry their child won't recognize when wrestling would be inappropriate and instead must teach them, "Keep your hands to yourself."
--From Steph


Regular moms get annoyed when their child won't stop talking.
Special needs moms would do anything to hear their child utter one word, 'Mom'.
--From Elizabeth


Regular moms cringe when their daughter misses a step or gets confused during a ballet recital.
Special needs moms cry special tears as their child painstakingly holds up one foot while leaning on a chair and says, “Look, mommy, I’m doing ballet.”
--From Kimberly


Regular moms get to go on vacations during long weekends or when school is out.
Special needs moms vacation...well you KNOW we don't do that.
--From Lorrie


Regular moms rely on children's vitamins and common cold medicines to meet their kids health needs.
Special needs moms are busy being medical detectives using medicines and supplements a pharmacist can barely pronounce.
--From Melanie


Regular moms budget for new clothes, a new size every season for their children.
Special needs moms know the anguish of three winters in the same size.
--From Heather at


Regular moms drive their kids to the pediatrician for their annual exam.
Special needs moms arrange for an ambulance to transport their child to their annual 12 specialist event that lasts a week at children's hospital.
--From Elizabeth


Regular mums complain their kids are under their feet during the summer holidays.
Special needs mums hope to find a school where their child can stay for longer than a term (semester) before being thrown out.
--From Laurie, England


Regular moms send Christmas cards to their friends and family.
Special needs moms send Christmas cards to friends, family AND the medical team and specialists that helps take care of their child.
--From Kate


Regular moms show up to their kids' activities and watch from the sidelines.
Special needs moms get to work prompting and herding their child in each activity.
--From Ann


Regular moms donate to charities that give teddy bears to hospitals.
Special needs moms know that hopsital families can probably afford a bear, but could really use help with the bills.
--From Petra

Regular moms think OT stands for over time.
Special needs moms hear OT and think occupational therapy.
--From Angela

Regular moms who work worry about how they can take time off for an occasional sick day or field trip.
Special needs moms who work have to figure out how to take time off for sick days, field trips, bimonthly visits to specialists, counselors, IEP meetings and when the school calls asking to pick up your child because he can't calm down.
--From Tracey


Regular moms love it when relatives wear out their children with play, thinking they'll sleep well that night.
Special needs moms weigh the choices: Allow rough-housing that will keep their child up all night and set back their behavior issues or disappoint well-meaning relatives who don't understand your child's disability.
--From Steph


Regular moms rarely get calls from their child's teacher.
Special needs moms expect it's a call from the school everytime the phone rings.
--From Anonymous


Regular moms worry about their child being picked on in school.
Special needs moms know their child will be discriminated against for their entire lives.
--From Elizabeth


Regular moms tell their child to get dressed.
Special needs moms have to dress their child multiple times before leaving.
--From Angie

Regular moms have sleepover parties for their child.
Special needs moms wish their child had at least one friend who would stay for a sleepover.
--From Christie

Regular moms fight with their child to pick which clothes to wear.
Special needs moms fight with their child to try to keep any clothes on all day.
--From Angie


Regular moms are on a first name basis with other moms in their neighborhood.
Special needs moms are on a first name basis with their child's pediatrician, neurosurgeon, gastroenterologist and other specialists.
--From Kate


Regular moms bring their kids to the doctor without any advance preparation.
Special needs moms have prepped their child all week with books and practice getting a shot.  They come in armed with favorite CDs and children’s books and it’s still a traumatic experience for both child and mom.
From Judy


Regular moms forward funny mom e-mails to each other.
Special needs moms can only send this list to other special needs moms--regular moms would be offended if we suggest they don't understand what we deal with everyday.


Regular moms say, "I wish my child would stop growing!"
Special needs moms pray every night their failure to thrive child grows.
--From Gaynell

Regular moms occasionally worry about one or two allergies.
Special needs moms have memorized the top 75 allergens, preservatives, chemical additives and toxins.
--From Michael


Regular moms hunt for the best clothes bargains and trendy styles.
Special needs moms hunt for that one manufacturer who makes clothes that fit our child's fine motor or sensory needs.


Regular moms worry about spoiling their kids with too many toys.
Special needs moms will buy half the store if there's a chance something will get their child playing instead of stimming.


Regular moms' stress levels raise from a 3 to a 10 if their child needs stitches or tubes in their ears.
Special needs moms' daily stress levels are already at an 8 so stitches or tubes in ears can actually be a step down from the day to day stresses.
--From Kate


Regular moms look forward to their children going off to college.
Special needs moms do not look forward to deciding whether or not to put their children in state run homes when they become adults.
--From Elizabeth


Regular moms know their child will eventually pick up reading in their own way.
Special needs moms must tackle reading skills with a sense of urgency and with all the research resources they can muster.
--From Jeri

Regular moms are asked to chaperone for field trips.
Special needs moms are required to be there just so their child can go on the field trip.

Regular moms can tell their kids to play with the other kids giving her the chance to be social with the other parents.
Special needs moms must stay hyper alert when their child is with other kids and don't get the chance to socialize with other parents.


Regular moms think PT means part-time.
Special needs moms hear PT and think physical therapy.


Regular moms put their children to bed and get a good night's sleep.
Special needs moms monitor CPAP machines and masks, Apnea monitors, suction tracheotomy tubes, oxygen tanks, reset pulse oximeter alarms and feed their children through feeding tubes through the night.
--From Elizabeth


Regular moms think SID stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Special needs moms recognize SID as Sensory Integration Dysfunction.
--From Angela


Regular moms think about the latest diet and keeping bodies fit.
Special needs moms think about the Feingold diet and keeping bodies sensory-regulated.
--From Petra


Regular moms sit and chat with other moms while their kids play in the park.
Special needs moms may go to the park with their child but rarely get to sit and chat.
--From Steph


Regular moms try to get their child toilet trained by preschool.
Special needs moms try to get their child toilet trained by high school.
--From Nancy


Regular moms take their child's developmental milestones for granted.
Special needs moms realize what a miracle the human body is to be able to do what it does after spending hundreds of hours teaching our kids to roll over, crawl, walk, eat, play, etc.
--From Kate


Regular moms take their kids to birthday parties and gather to chat as their kids hit the pinata happily.
Special needs moms spend the party alone, watching their child open and close the sliding screen door repeatedly and trying to keep him from smashing the birthday cake or tear open the birthday kid's presents.
--From Amy at Normal is a Dryer Setting


Regular moms agonize with their child if he or she doesn’t make the elite soccer team.
Special needs moms would cry tears of joy to see their child play soccer, just once.
--From Kimberly


Regular moms have a variety of interests.
Special needs moms have a variety of interests regarding the brain, the nervous system, internal organs and the senses.
--From Petra


Regular moms ask the local babysitter to watch the kids on date night.
Special needs moms call a nursing agency when they have to leave her child home for emergencies only.
--From Elizabeth


Got more?  Let’s hear them!  Send your "regular moms versus special needs moms" to

Original Regular moms vs Special needs moms

Click here for additional special needs related Mother's Day links.

Dawn VillarrealAbout the writer

Dawn Villarreal runs One Place for Special Needs, a national disability resource that lets you find local and online resources, events and even other families in your neighborhood plus thousands of online disability resources! Stay awhile and check out the site. Reprint permission granted by including: Reprinted with permission from One Place for Special Needs

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