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Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Special Needs Mother Hat

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

I talk a lot about my journey to obtain my special needs mother hat.  I don’t know why I use this term.  I guess it just gives me a good descriptive picture in my head and explains a major role I play.

To me, this hat looks different than a mother hat.  My mother hat fit well the first time I put it on.  It was easy to wear, simple, elegant, and light. It was beautiful from the beginning and did not tear easily.  When it did, I could take it off at night and stitch up any holes it acquired during the day.  My stitching was never loose, came apart or was crooked.  It always came back together nicely.   It rarely fell off and never seemed heavy.  I was proud to wear it and frequently showed it off.   I enjoyed this new hat tremendously and was very reluctant to turn it in for my special needs mother hat.

When I got this hat it was WAY too big.   It fell off all of the time.  Sometimes it just blew right off my head.  In the beginning I forgot that I had it and a big gust of wind would come along and POOF!  Gone.  I would have to go chasing it down the street. Sometimes I threw it to the floor in a moment of rage, frustration, or grief.  And sometimes I just tried to leave it on the counter at home.  I tried to pretend that I didn’t have it and that it wasn’t sitting there waiting to adorn my head like a 1000lb weight.   It was extremely heavy.  It had all kinds of straps, buckles, and ties attached to it that I couldn’t figure out.  It had random flowers on it with names that I couldn’t pronounce. It was uncomfortable and became worn out looking.  Rips and tears began to decorate the sides and no matter how hard I tried to stitch it up, my stitching never fixed the holes. They were loose, crooked and simply came apart by an unexpected tug in the wrong way.  The whole hat would just fall apart.  I would carry my hat in pieces back home and painstakingly try to put it all back together.  At first it seemed destined to be big, ugly, uncomfortable, and prone to making me feel like an outsider.  It seemed nobody had a hat that looked like mine.

After I wore it for a while, I began to notice other mothers whose hats looked like mine.  They were worn and tattered, but had been repaired with beautiful hand crafted stitching and appeared loved and cherished.  These mothers looked at me in my hat and smiled a knowing smile and pointed to their heads.  “See.  I’m proud of my hat.  It may appear complicated and worn out to you, but to me it’s beautiful.  Your hat will be beautiful too one day.” 

Slowly I began to notice new things about this hat that I hated at first.  I was learning to pronounce the names of the flowers on it and figuring out the buckles and straps.  It wasn’t so big anymore and no longer blew unexpectedly off my head.  It began to fit better as each day I grew a little more confident in my role. Every once in a while I still throw it to the floor, but now my reasons are different. It still gets ripped and torn, but I am learning to sew it back up and now my stitches hold it together.  It doesn’t fall apart so easily and my stitches are straighter and stronger.  I’ve learned to love each and every rip, tear, crease, and stain on my hat because each one has a story.  A moment in time and a memory of where I have been and what I have gone through. It isn’t so uncomfortable now and it doesn’t make me feel like an outsider.  Now it makes me feel like part of a group.  A group of mothers with special hats and special roles that we love and feel honored to have.   Now I’m not ashamed of my hat and I never try to forget it on the counter. I walk out of my house each day with my head held up high. Proud to show off my journey with my special needs mother hat.