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Just The Way You Are

As Christian grew and I became more accustomed to raising a child, and raising a special child, I learned not only about the many joys that come with, but the pains as well. Many of those pains are unavoidable, such as watching Christian go through surgery. But many we encounter have been brought on by people who meant no harm, but didn't know how to approach us, what to say, or when to keep their mouth shut. At first it was stares that got us. We got ALOT of stares. The reason it bothered us so much I think is because we never even thought about or expected to get stared at! It was a shock to us the first time we went grocery shopping and we literally could not go down a single isle without getting glances. We realize that Christian looks very different, we are not naive, but we also didn't realize that people would actually whisper about us within earshot, or make it so obvious that they were staring that they would turn completely backwards while walking and walk into things in front of them. It was surprising to us, and heartbreaking. We literally began keeping Christian's carseat covered with a blanket most of the time.

When we weren't getting stares, we would get questions. People who were brave enough would approach us and ask about him. Many were so kind in their approach. You could see pain in their eyes for our child. Some would even cry, and almost all of them would light up with a smile when we began telling them how healthy he is and how crazy we are about him. Many, however, did not season their words with love or think about how what they said would affect us. We had people walk up and say "Hey, what's wrong with your kid?" or "What happened to his eyes?" without any regard for their tone. Children would go "Mommy what is that?" "Are his eyes bleeding?" Most of the time parents would come up and apologize to me for their children, but a few would not. I never minded if children said unkind things because they are children and if they've never encountered someone different then how would they know how to react. So I also used it as a chance to teach them how to treat children like Christian. But it did bother me when a child would say something rude and a parent would just let it slide, never correcting the child or explaining that some people are different and that it's ok. But whenever we would go out, the trip would take twice as long as it should've because we spent so much time explaining to people.

The most painful experience I had was before Christian was 3 months old. I was in the checkout line at Wal-Mart and there were 3 guys in front of me., around my age or maybe in college, since we were by MTSU. They turned around and started talking to me and of course they noticed my covered baby carriage. So they asked how old the baby was and the normal questions. And then the one I hated, they asked to see him. I was still trying out different responses then, and at that time, I was explaining about Christian BEFORE pulling the blanket back, because just pulling it back had not produced results I enjoyed. As I stumbled over words trying to tell them that Christian was different, one of them said something to the effect of "What are you about to show us? Is that even a baby under there?" And I said "Yes, he's my son. He just looks different because of a birth defect." So when I pulled the blanket back, all three of the guys gasped. Two of them put their hands over their mouths and one of them jumped away from Christian in fear. They were all totally shocked of course. I almost burst into tears right then and there. I could feel the anger and pain coming up in my throat, and I yelled, "Hey! This is my son. I told you he looked different. Thank you for making something painful hurt just a little bit more!"  I guess they saw the hurt on my face, and they all began to apologize and started saying things like "He's gonna be ok. He's a tough guy. He's got a good mama to take care of him." But that experience left a scar on my heart, and the harsh reality of how people would react to Christian really sunk in.

But I was determined not to let it be so. I decided that I would teach people, if I had to do it one person at a time. I would show people that Christian is just a child, my child; that he is wonderful, and beautiful, and that God created him just how he was. Then I began thinking about other people who had probably been through the same thing, and how the pain I felt was not a pain that only I knew. So I began thinking. I started brainstorming about what I could do to make a difference, to educate people, to show them right form wrong, and it hit me. The local paper! So I asked a friend who worked for the paper about writing articles, and they agreed. I was thrilled! I was so excited! And so it began, I began writing articles, and the responses were great! I've had parents of special needs children write me and tell me that my articles have helped them through difficult times. I've had people with healthy children write me and tell me that they just admire Christian. I've had lots of responses and I hope to have more. I entitled my column "Just The Way You Are" for obvious (I hope) reasons. I want to celebrate children with special needs. I am tired of hearing "I'm sorry,"
I want to hear "congratulations!" God made Christian and every single other human being on this earth, and because He made them, I can say in all honesty that they are perfect just the way they are. I want to celebrate those differences as differences. I hate the word "handicapped." It creates images of a pityful, helpless being, and Christian is so far from that. He is a vibrant, charming, lovable, sweet little boy who is very loving and full of energy. Does that sound handicapped to you? Nope. Didn't think so. Christian doesn't use vision to learn or get around or do things. He uses sound, and touch, and smell, and vibration. That's not handicapped. That is different.  So I want to teach others that differently abled peole are perfect just the way they are, and so that is my quest.

Many people have asked me how to read the articles if they don't subscribe to the paper, and there really isn't a way, so I am going to start posting my articles on my blog. What a better use for it? So, here begins my first article on the next post, and all that I've written to follow. Please follow along and enjoy! And please! Feedback is always welcome! If you have questions, ideas, comments, whatever it is, I would love to hear it! :) Enjoy!


  1. Love this! I hate when people tell me "I don't know how you do it". Are you kidding me? My usual response is " how could you not do it". He is my son no matter what he can or cannot do and I love him just the same.

  2. Thank you for writing this post, Lacey. My eyes have been opened once again, and I've gained yet another new perspective. Our lives changed 2 years ago next Sunday. Since then, I've avoided looking at the infant in the carseat assuming that he or she is a healthy baby. I try not to be jealous of pregnant women, but I do avoid them. I should know better. I carried a child knowing that his or her future was in God's hands. How many were looking at me with jealousy not realizing what my husband and I were going through? How many look at me now when they see me with my 3 healthy daughters, not realizing the pain and emptiness I carry and hide on the inside?

    After our lives changed, we often heard the same question..."What was wrong with her?" I hated that question, because there is nothing "wrong" with our children. God created them specially for our families. That question made me feel as though I did something we failed her as parents. Eventually, I started answering, "There is nothing wrong with her. Grace is perfect and lives in heaven."

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

  3. He may not be able to see, but his other senses will develop in amazing ways. I've even heard amazing stories of people born blind who taught themselves echolocation- an entirely new sense! Your son his beautiful and he has the sweetest smile. He is lucky to have such wonderful parents.

  4. Thank you for sharing your family story! Christian is a beautiful little boy! I loved your video with Christian and the slips of paper! The music was perfect..just like your son!
    God Bless y'all and keep you safe.


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