I’ve been having a pretty tough day today with Kender. I’m taking advantage of the few brief moments here and there when he is silently pouting to type this out. I need to get this out, even (or maybe especially!) on a bad day like today, because sometimes I feel like I have no voice.
We have made and still make a lot of alternative choices in our lifestyle and our parenting. We chose to have children with a disabled parent. I used medications to reset my hormones and restore my fertility instead of continuing to use fertility drugs. We chose out-of-hospital births. We chose breastfeeding and cosleeping, cloth diapers and rags. We chose to use convertible carseats from the beginning instead of carriers, and slings instead of carriers and strollers much of the time. We chose natural medicine as much as possible, with personalized vaccination schedules and avoidance of antibiotics. We chose to homeschool, even when we found out our children had disabilities.
Every single one of those choices is outside of the mainstream, and so whenever we are having trouble with pretty much anything, those are the first things that people suggest we change.
It doesn’t seem to matter if the problem would even be fixed by the solution suggested. To people who do not share our choices, our choices are the problem.
It reminds me of the problems that fat people face when going to the doctor. No matter what their health complaint is, they are told the answer is losing weight. I’ve been told this myself. I’ve been told that I should lose weight in order to fix a medical problem that causes weight gain…now there’s an infinite loop for you! Other people have been told to lose weight to fix anything from strep throat to broken bones.
If Kender were in the government school system, it would be completely acceptable for me to complain about the IEP process, about the school refusing to teach him Braille or to use a cane, about how many medications he needs in order to be nice and quiet and compliant, about how getting the schools to actually provide him with an education is a full-time job. When we homeschool, though, we’re not allowed to complain about how expensive Braille materials are, or how difficult it is to contain him, or about being tired, or anything else. No matter what my difficulty is, to some people the answer is that he should be in school. As if somehow that would make all the problems go away, rather than magnifying them or replacing them with an entirely different set of unsolveable problems.
When our lifestyle choices are questioned, there is no consideration for our individual concerns. There is no consideration for where we live, our past experiences with the establishment, our goals in life, our children’s unique needs. Everything comes down to, “You are different, and you do not deserve any sympathy or help until you conform and become like everybody else.” Every problem is reduced to some choice that we’ve made that is obviously the source of all our problems.
Fat and sick? You must become the socially-acceptable Not Fat before you can be treated for your health problem.
Libertarian and lost your job? You are not worthy of charity if you do not support government programs.
Homeschooling a disabled child? The only possible solution is government school.
Trying to find out what makes your child tick instead of medicating him? Sorry, does not compute.
Dealing with a difficult situation and have no support system? You need to change your religion so you can go to church and get help.
Do people who respond this way have any idea of how demoralizing it is to be told these things? How dehumanizing and impersonal it feels to be told that you, your personality, your preferences, your life, your SELF are the source of all your problems?
It’s no wonder that some of us draw into ourselves, that we withdraw from online message boards and real life support groups. When every time we reach out, we are slapped in the face, eventually we are going to stop reaching.