This Mother’s Day, let’s pay a special tribute to mothers who don’t need their child to be “normal”

Published: May 14, 2017
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He prods the viewers, telling them that the definitions and conventional meanings attached to social jargons are not set in stone.

What is a special child? You could scour through piles of books or websites on the internet. You could ask doctors or child specialists. You could ask anyone but the only person who knows the answer to this is a mother – the champion of life and longevity, the captain of endurance and consideration – that is the mother of a child who has been rendered special.

Hearing the following phrases must have a huge impact on a mother,

“Is he a little different?”

“Yes, your child is a special needs child. He cannot keep up with the ‘normal’ kids.”

She spends nine months preparing for her bundle of joy. The first heartbeat, the first caress inside her womb, the first kick as he develops legs, the first image on the ultrasound with those tiny eyes shut tight, are the most precious moments in a woman’s life. When the time finally comes to welcome her child into the world, she ends up tearing her body apart just to do that. The excruciating pain almost kills her but she keeps on going. She endures all this and more, just to bring into this world a child who she then cradles in her weary arms.

Can anyone possibly imagine how devastating she must feel when someone calls her child a “little different”? The word ‘special’ becomes a lament for her. Her energies are invested in ensuring that her child experiences ‘normalcy’.

Hence, the new McDonald’s advertisement is a tribute to all mothers that have managed to introduce this ‘normalcy’ into the lives of their ‘special’ children. It is a highly commendable effort.

It begins in the setting of an ‘employee of the year’ benefit for the McDonalds’ staff. A young man with a microphone addresses the crowd with an ode to his mother. He addresses his mother in the crowd elaborating how her life-long efforts were not invested in making him extraordinary but in proving that he is a fairly normal child. He appreciated how she managed to make him ‘regular’ like other children while the world focused on how ‘special’ he was.

The act put together to mildly puzzle the audience hits home when the camera shifts its focus to the other young man on stage. We find out that the man previously speaking was not the actual speaker but just an interpreter for this man who is using sign language to pay a beautiful tribute to his mother. He prods the viewers, telling them that the definitions and conventional meanings attached to social jargons are not set in stone. He stresses that what the world calls ‘special’ is normal to his mother, while her own ‘normalcy’ is nothing but ‘special’ to him. People win accolades for striving to outshine others. But mothers like these deserve the utmost praise for trying to make their children blend in with society.

Such examples really put things into perspective, in regards to our general outlook towards life. While we all try to be “different” or better than others, for some of us the struggle is just to be like everybody else. Special needs children and their mothers deserve a special tribute this Mother’s Day and this McDonalds advertisement has done a wonderful job to do just that.

While I am an advocate for absorbing such children into mainstream society as much as possible, I also strongly believe that the need to prove their ‘normalcy’ to the world ends up putting unwarranted pressure on them and their mothers.

This Mother’s Day, let us all join McDonald’s in their spirit of questioning stereotypes about special needs children and their mothers, but let us also remember that a “different” child is as much part of our world as a “normal” one. Let us accept them in their divergences and let us tell their mothers to care for them without feeling the pressure of justifying them to the world in order to meet some concocted standard of “normalcy”.

All children are beautiful, special and different, and there is nothing wrong in accepting that.

Fatima Raza

Fatima Raza

The author is a Biosciences graduate and a student of MPhil International Relations. She aspires to be an accomplished writer someday.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.