Okay so I talk about my family and my two girls a lot. One of my girls is my actual stepdaughter who I raised since she was 2. She is classified as I.D. (Intellectually Disabled). I want the world for my girls like every mom does but I also know that the world is not possible for my stepdaughter. It’s a sad but true realization.
Recently, I got into (yet another) conversation about the decisions I make for my stepdaughter and what I allow people to tell her about her future. Everyone seems to have an opinion but in the end the only ones that matter are mine and my husband’s.
Anyhoo, the convo got me up all riled up and needing to vent. (Hence this blog)
My stepdaughter is 20 years old and goes to a special school that is supposed to prepare her for life. And while the school does do a great deal for her it also sets her up for some disappointment. In fact a lot of people in her life are setting her up for disappointment. I have to ask people all the time to stop telling her she is going to be a doctor or a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser. It’s just not possible and after a while of being obsessed with something someone has told her my daughter gets depressed and angry that she isn’t doing what they said she would do.
Mostly I see the anger and resentment played out in her relationship with her sister. It kills me that they don’t have a loving relationship. Don’t get me wrong, they have their days of playing outside and fake hugging but mostly it ain’t that. And I understand sisters fight but I hear the angry words coming from one sister’s mouth and the exasperation coming from the other.
I know that the 20 year old is frustrated that the 10 year old can understand more and do more. She can see it and it bothers her. The knew thing she has started doing is following her younger sister around saying, “You need to call me your big sister.” Which is usually followed by the ugliest thing she an think to say.
This upsets the 10 year old who is taller than her big sister (and looks out for her big sister) and of course I have to step in and say that she IS her big sister. That is met by an eye roll (which I put a stop to because I ain’t about that eye roll to your mother life) and an,”I know but…” I can feel her pain but it doesn’t change facts.
People are constantly comparing the 20 year old to a child with a learning disability (like dyslexia) or a child with Downs syndrome. They tell me I am putting my child in a box and cutting off her growth and ability. Mmkay….They deal with her for a small fraction of time and only see the charming child that sings and laughs all day. They don’t try to make her do practical things that require structure or direction. And if they do, then they see a true lack of understanding or defiance at being told what to do. She doesn’t have dyslexia or Down’s, she has limited intellectual use/growth. It’s different.
I’m not trying to take her future away from her but I am trying to give her REALISTIC goals that she can meet and be proud of herself for. I want her to feel accomplished not like a failure that can’t ever do anything. Isn’t that what a mother SHOULD want for her kid?
I get tired of trying to tell people what I already know and let them find out for themselves. She is stifled by the very nature of her disability, not me. I can get behind people telling her she’s a rock star and letting her get special treatment in school by allowing her to sing and dance instead of actually doing work. The only thing I can not abide by is when they get my child’s hopes up about some far fetched ideal that even they know isn’t true. It is hurtful to her and therefore hurtful to me. I have to put a stop to the nonsense and bear the indignant “I was trying to help” faces and the judgmental conversations because in the end I know what’s best for her.