To the Author of The Anonymous Note Left On My Car Window- — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

To the Author of The Anonymous Note Left On My Car Window-

by Suzanne


I think I recognize you!  I do.. I used to live in your world of Black & White, everything in order- in it’s place- I  got a plan- got a schedule- a list of finished projects- checked -off checklist and all. How wonderful for you that your life is so structured, so dependable and predictable that you cling to that line dividing right and wrong, black and white, and that you feel compelled to comment when you think someone is coloring outside the lines.  

This time though, in your hurry to keep things neat and orderly.. you didn’t see the whole picture. I guess you didn’t see the accessible permit hanging from my car mirror, giving me permission to park close to the entrance. You didn’t see the wheelchair lift permanently installed into the back of my SUV, and you didn’t see me unload my nine year old daughter’s pink manual wheelchair that we use for “ quick “ trips. Maybe from your view you only saw my 11 -year old daughter and I, and not Zoe’s pink wheelchair.

But forget all that, it could have only been my older daughter with me that day, parked in that same spot,and depending on her health at that moment- in your eyes, we would have appeared to be at fault- even though her doctor almost nags me, reminding me to use the medically authorized permit to conserve her energy when needed. Even though she has the same progressive metabolic disorder as her younger sister. She doesn’t have a wheelchair, but she has the same rights- all invisible to you from the perspective of your world.

I recognize where you are from. I used to live there too. I used to have checked off lists, awards of accomplishments, perfect hair, great skin, sparkly eyes, a quick wit,  a clean car, a social life, a large social network, an organized calendar , vacation plans set in stone, and a no overdue library books . But then I became a Mom. A mom of a special needs child. A child with no lifelong guarantee, no definitive prognosis and no detailed treatment plans. We have good doctors, we have a good attitude and we have a good family life.

My life is good, but not so easily structured. My skin not so healthy, my hair often flyaway, my eyes most often tired. I am up multiple times throughout the night, I rise at 5 and go full speed until 9 at night, still stymied and determined to do more each and every day.  I miss the friendships I used to have, the  once- so- easy to -achieve professional accomplishments- but I don’t miss that world you live in.

I am a kinder woman who lives in a world that is no longer black and white. Sometimes gray is good, a salvation, a retreat from something that could be much worse. My priorities were reshuffled for me, and now I would never think to judge another.

I am always in motion and I am grateful . Grateful for the touch of my child who needs my hands to steady her,  grateful for my child who craves my words to calm her, my child who needs my hugs to soothe her. I am even grateful, that I no longer live …in that black and white world.



Email Author    |    Website About Suzanne

Suzanne is the motivated mom to two daughters affected by mitochondrial disease. She shares a cozy home in Scottsdale with her handsome husband Bruce, smart and spunky daughter Olivia (10), sassy yet sweet daughter Zoe (9) Frankie the Bernese Mountain dog and Max, the Golden Retriever. She is an avid reader, obsessive coffee drinker, wannabe knitter, advocate for kids with special needs, and a reunited adoptee.

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1 Dwija {House Unseen} October 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

Hugs, Suzanne. I’m so sorry that people can be heartless like that, with no idea of the struggles you endure.

2 Suzanne October 10, 2011 at 11:33 am

No worries-I am blessed but some people.. obviously not so much… I just couldn’t help but comment!

3 Jennifer Cullen October 10, 2011 at 11:37 am

I wish that the person who left you the note would read this post. People can be so self-righteous with out even pausing to think that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye. Like you said, life is not black and white.

4 Suzanne October 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

I am hoping it is shared here around my neighborhood via social media! you never know.. or maybe if enough people see it , it will make others stop and think- before they assume!

5 Heather P October 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm

You should totally use one of those car markers and write on your car, “You’re right, I’m not disabled, but my daughter is! Wanna live my life?”

Grrr. people like that boil my blood…

6 jenny October 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I loved this post. It’s such an eloquent and pointed reminder to ALL of us not to be so quick to judge. Well done.

7 Jo October 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm

i am sad you had to have this happen. Tis world can be so unfair and judgemental. But you are rught us parents of these special kids gain so much more. An undersatdning of that different is ok, less judgemental and hope for more understanding……

8 Kate J October 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Maybe you could get this article into the local paper as well. I know you are not the only one who has had to endure the uninformed judgment of others as relates to handicapped parking.

9 Tiffany October 11, 2011 at 12:42 am

I love this idea! Please try for that. I think the more people who read this and are reminded that there is more to the story than meets the eye. We could all use that reminder. How many times has our first impression of someone been that they were rude or inconsiderate when it might just be that something terrible has just happened to them or their family and perhaps they are normally completely different? How many times have we behaved opposite to our nature because of something we were going through at that moment and we hate that we have been judged by that one bad moment? There are so many other ways this can help us remember that the world truly does have more colors and that we don’t know everyone’s story? How many of us could use a reminder to be a littler more kind, a little more understanding and a little more compassionate?

10 Tiffany October 11, 2011 at 12:45 am

p.s. sorry for the typos…

11 ML October 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

No, shame on him or her. I am ashamed for that person.

12 Kelli October 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Clearly, the person who took the time to write you this hateful note was so self-absorbed that she didn’t take the time to consider the possiblities. Shame on her.

13 Suzanne October 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

thanks for all the positive feedback. It was fun sharing a bit of ” me” with ” her” and the rest of the world.. and of course having the last word!

14 K. C. October 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Wow. I don’t even know what to say except that stinks. Everyone has a story; until we know someone’s story, we have no right to pass judgement.

15 Truthful Mommy October 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

And THIS is the biggest lesson that I have learned since having children..YOu can never judge a person by what you see, because you most certainly do not know the entire story. I used to bet hat black and white person but I have my perspective changed, broadened if you will. I know that what I see is only a very small piece, a second, in the entire scope of the situation. You go girl for writing this post. It needs to be said and more people need to think before they react, because they have no idea what they are actually seeing.

16 Running Betty October 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm

profound. thank you.
like when I am on the highway and some car zips around me really fast, i try to tell myself it’s a doting husband taking his wife to the hospital while she’s having contractions. I try.

17 Katrina October 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Perhaps you should send this letter to your local newspaper in the letters to the editor? I have seen letters like this one printed before.

And some people just fail to see the whole picture.

18 Adina October 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm

What a fantastic article. I printed this one out to share with the Special Ed. teachers in the school that I work in. Thank you!

19 Sarah October 10, 2011 at 10:31 pm

It is true that some people go around thinking that things are black and white when really, they rarely are. Thank you for this great post!

20 Elle Thomas October 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm

When I was in college I made a friend who had had (when she was a teenager) MAJOR surgery to correct a vast difference in the length of her legs. Post surgery she developed a staff infection in the wound and it ate away at the muscle on her shin. She had a gigantic scar on her leg, of which she was self conscious and she almost always wore full length pants to cover it. Her ankle was also deformed from the years of walking on one leg longer than the other, and she had a handicapped tag for those days when it would flare up in great pain, and her doctors recommended that she use it as often as possible to keep her from exacerbating the injury.

One day we pulled up at a grocery store, and she parked, as was her right, in the handicapped spot. I was appalled to hear an elderly customer snidely say, “What’s your handicap?” under her breath as we walked by. My friend hadn’t heard her. But I scoffed and mentioned it to my friend, who promptly turned around and unexpectedly lifted up her bootlegged jeans and pointed to her leg and said, “THIS is my handicap.”

All of this is to say, we don’t always SEE peoples problems. My friend covered hers, because she didn’t WANT people to look at her differently. We need to be more open to the less obvious – the hidden handicaps that WE ALL HAVE. Not all of them warrant a special tag, but if we should look first inward instead of judging based only on what our eyes tell us.

Thank you for this profound post.

21 Kat October 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm

It’s so sad that people will do things like this. I had a similar experience today — my truck broke down last night while me and my five children (ages 3-11) were going shopping for Winter clothes. I did my best to coast the huge Yukon XL out of the isle and into a parking spot but it stopped shy of allowing me to straighten it up. It took up two and a half parking spots. It was highly stressful… all those kids, it was getting chilly outside… waiting on my parents to come take us in TWO trips back home because my mom drives a small Kia car. My husband is in the middle of the ocean so handling it all was on me — getting it towed, trusting that the technicians don’t try to mess me over because I’m a woman who knows nothing about cars. Then? Today when I met the tow truck, there was a note written in all caps: “PARK MORE LIKE AN @$$HOLE NEXT TIME, PRICK!” Gah. I was already anxious about how much it’s going to cost to get it repaired, whether I’m going to still be able to get the kids’ winter clothes this week, etc. People don’t stop to think about who is coming back to the notes they leave. They don’t stop to think about how much worse their words make an already difficult situation. 🙁 I’m so sorry you had to deal with this… but I have to feel sorry for people with no compassion who don’t have it in them to try to understand what someone else may be going through.

22 Jacquelyn October 10, 2011 at 11:12 pm

My mom (82) is legally blind and I’m the one who takes her on her errands and to her dr. appts. She also has a handicap parking placard that I hang on my mirror. Because she looks perfectly normal when we get out of the car we often get dirty looks for taking a handicap parking space. What people don’t realize is how easily she can stumble and fall, or how she can’t tell apart the colors and makes of cars and she would often attempt to return to a similar looking car. Her world is getting darker every day, but others can’t see that. Since I’ve been dealing with this I have become so much more understanding of those who take the handicap spaces, even if the handicapped person doesn’t happen to be along on that particular trip to the store, or whatever. I remind myself that caregiver is probably dealing with something I know nothing about, and God bless them if a close parking space gives them a small break once in a while. Sure there are people who abuse the system. There always will be. But that’s not for me to judge.

23 Natalie October 10, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Some people can’t see past the nose on their face and are too busy being indignant to be compassionate. She is lucky you have such a calm collected response to her obvious blindness. One day, she will say the wrong thing to the wrong person and all that will come back to haunt her.

24 Gina October 10, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I truly love what you wrote. Maybe we should print it out and paste it on the sides of our cars as we park? Or are in line at the grocery? Or at the park? Thanks for writing it.

25 Nicole DeZarn October 10, 2011 at 11:58 pm

As a mom of 3 kids with disabilities, I can so relate to this. My youngest son must use a walker or wheel chair but he is very small (tiny actually,) and sometimes I just put him in the cart. However, I still use our tag because I have to manage my other two children who have FASD and are always likely to run or just stroll into traffic, I hold my breath as we head in the building, especially if an entire arm is dedicated to holding Isaac. Still, while my children have brain injury sustained in the womb of their birthmother, their disabilities are invisible, so I too get those looks. Hang in there, Mama, the rest of us are all pulling for you and your beautiful girls!!!

26 Kat October 11, 2011 at 12:37 am

Thank you for this. I cried. Sharing via FB.

27 Kassandra October 11, 2011 at 12:41 am

I am so sorry you had that happen. I’m also very sorry for the pain your children must go through, and you as well seeing them in pain.

I get the same looks when I use mine. I’m only 25, but I have serious back problems that affect my walking.

28 Stan Sameshima October 11, 2011 at 12:46 am

Don’t be too upset. In a way she was trying to reserve that space for you, she just made a mistake in not recognizing that it was for you. She was trying to save that space for you by saying something to someone that she thought was the occasional inconsiderate, thoughtless person who “parked there because I only needed to run inside for a minute.”

29 Lisa October 11, 2011 at 1:15 am

What a beautifully written and gracious response that shows the kind and forgiving heart you have. And thank you for the reminder that we never truly know what someone else is going through even if we think we ‘see’ it.

30 Gone Bananas October 11, 2011 at 8:53 am

Some people are ignorant! Seriously? It’s a parking space! This song was written for people like that.

31 Gone Bananas October 11, 2011 at 8:54 am

PS You’ve already given them more of your time than they deserve. Well written response! ((hug))

32 Jennifer October 11, 2011 at 9:01 am

At first read this makes me really angry that someone did this, but when I think about it, it really hurts me for you. I don’t even know if that makes sense. Just that there are people in this world that would stop and judge you, and then leave a note. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that there are people like this, and that they do things like this.

33 Mary E.S. October 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

Your post reminds me of the last meltdown my youngest had in Wal Mart and the cruel remarks about whipping him and making him behave.I’m so sorry for you that some one let their alligator mouth over ride their hummingbird brain and did something so asinine.

34 John October 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I feel that most people have good within, sometimes it takes something like this to bring it out. On the other-hand, there are those who have nothing but displeasure within and will never enjoy life as it comes and the things and people who come with it! May God continue to bless you and your AWESOME FAMILY!

35 Tawny Y. October 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

I was confronted in Costco by a woman who said, “And I’m the one with a cane!” in a clearly aggrieved tone of voice. I asked her, “What’s that supposed to mean?” as I didn’t understand what het having a cane had to do with me. “I saw you ride your bicycle up to your car which is taking up a handicapped space.” My car, too, had a placard hanging in the window. And I absolutely did ride my bicycle right up to it. Because I was meeting my HUSBAND, who had recently had surgery and couldn’t walk unassisted, and yet the woman never even considered that perhaps the handicap placard was for another person. Handicap placards are also for the use of persons who are transporting the handicapped; I.e. when I am dropping off and/or picking up my husband for medical appointments, I am allowed to use the placard to get a spot so that HE (the person with the handicap) doesn’t have to walk long distances to and from the car. Yes, I am an able bodied person and don’t need a placard – and I would never use my husband’s for my own convenience. But I will also absolutely not feel guilty for using it to avoid the pain and discomfort my husband suffers – that’s what it is for.

36 Jill October 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

It is so sad that people want to take the time to be nasty and leave a note does that make them a better person, did it brighten their miserable day? Compasion, kindness and just plain mind your own business is not a thing of today!
Bless you and your girls and may you have many more joyous days!

37 Marina at My Busy Children October 18, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I am so sorry this happened to you. It is sad how ignorant and selfish people can be

38 eSther October 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I WISH everyone on every social network would repost this untill the anonymous note writer is reached..
Never presume to know what life is like in another man, woman, or child’s life.

Watch with your heart instead of judging with narrow visioned eyes.

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