Saturday, 19 January 2013

Who wants to be a superhero anyway?

It’s over 20 years since I entered the world of disability, special needs, additional needs, differing ability – however we want to describe it. It’s a world that existed before I existed but a world I really knew nothing about until my wife, Sheron, and I were given the news “Emily has Down’s syndrome”.

During the past 20 years I have met many parents who, like me, walk through this world with an attitude of “I’m not quite sure how I got here, but I’m glad I came”. Of course it’s not a world we visit for a time and then walk away from because once you’ve been there’s no going back – no matter what happens. During this time Sheron and I have had what I call the “terrible privilege” of supporting local parents through the aftermath of the loss of a child - our only qualification to offer this support is simply that we are from the same world of special needs. Some of those parents remain as trustees for our local Down’s syndrome support group. They could easily walk away and re-join the world they were part of before – except they can’t; there is no going back when you have been touched in this way by our beautiful children.

As parents, the way we support each other makes a huge difference to our lives. Who can say that they have not benefitted from the support, the love or the care of another parent from time to time, or in my case from day to day as I interact with some fantastic parents on Twitter. We are not superheroes. I am not Superman, you are not Wonder Woman, Batman, Mr Incredible or any other we could mention (if you wear your pants outside your trousers that’s probably just tiredness not a sign of superpowers). We are human, we get emotional, we get angry, we lose it. There are times when we simply can’t cope………and that’s ok. It’s ok not to be ok. But it’s important we share with others so that we can help one another through our darker, more challenging days and weeks.

If you wear your pants outside your trousers that’s probably just due to tiredness not a sign of superpowers

It would be so easy to look at other parents who may appear to have it all together, but they have their down times too. They have their tears, grief and frustrations. We all do. We are all broken. But in our brokenness we find our redemption; in our struggles we discover our beauty; in our hurt we release our compassion. I have found that simply offering to be there can make such a difference to someone else and in doing so we rediscover our worth. We are all of equal value. A scrunched up, dirty, torn £5 note found at the back of your purse is still worth the same as the brand new shiny £5 note from the cashpoint. If you feel like that scrunched up £5 note, you need to know you have the same value as when you feel brand new and shiny. When your chocolaty-faced cherub looks up at you with arms outstretched for a hug they just see Mum or Dad not the superhero you’re trying to be.

We have so much to offer one another……...but it has to be at the right time. If right now you are struggling just to make it through the day, struggling to manage the washing, ironing, housework, office work, business, cook the dinner, do the homework, as well as the many challenges that come from having a child with special needs, it’s ok. Just learn to rest in who you are, don’t strive to be someone you’re not just to make it look like you’re a superhero. Learn to forgive yourself, love yourself and find acceptance in being who you were born to be.

We are all learning much as we journey through this world and as we pay it forward and pass that knowledge on we change the world for someone else. That’s not being a superhero, that’s you being you and me being me.

Much love,

My favourite superhero stood next to Mickey Mouse


  1. just found you from britmums and you write so wonderfully. im starting to pay it forward by helping other parents locally and nationally with information on the pit falls and privileges of autism. with two severely autistic under 5s its a journey ive only just started but i hope i can continue to support people the best i can.

    1. That's most kind, thank you. I'm sure you will be a real encouragement to many. If we all do a small amount we achieve much together! :)

  2. Another lovely, encouraging post Paul. Yes, a crumpled £5 or the bucket with the leak is how I feel most days :)
    Downs Side Up

    1. Thanks Hayley, you have no idea how many beautiful flowers are growing because you're leaking positivity! x