One of the first lessons we're taught growing up, is not to judge a book by its cover. While it may be human nature to be critical of one another, we can often find people staring or judging before they know the full story.
This mom's keen eye caught a man taking a picture of her van while she was parked at her local Target store.
Alethea Mshar is an athletic mom. Her car is proof of that with stickers pasting her accomplishments, including a recent half marathon and a 25K, covering the backside of her van. These aren't the only signs decorating her windows, however, she also has a handicapped sign hanging from her rear-view mirror. This clearly resonated with a passerby who stopped to capture the ironic nature of what he was seeing.
In response to the man's actions, Mshar wrote an open letter to help shed some light on some things someone may not consider when looking at the situation at face value.
She starts off my admitting what the stranger probably saw before she got back to her car.
"Yes, my van has running stickers on it, and yes, it’s an ironic picture, seeing my 13.1 and 25k stickers on a vehicle in a disabled spot, I get why you took the picture. The playful side of me actually hopes you and your friends got a few laughs out of the picture," she starts.
And that's when the truth of the matter hits home.
"But I hope you noticed my child when we exited the store. He was sitting in the cart even though he’s far too big. That’s because my child is the person the placard is for. My guess is that the possibility hadn’t even occurred to you. And that’s why I’m writing this," she writes.
Mshar, is a mother of four children, two of which have down syndrome.
Her youngest Ben, is the reason for her special permit and why she started writing in the first place.
"My son is permanently disabled. He can walk, but not for any distance, and he has many health problems that sometimes prevent walking much at all," she admitted.
The family adopted Ben, because they have an older child with Down syndrome and they thought it would complete their family to have another child with a similar condition. In addition to having Down syndrome, Ben also has hearing impairment, Hirschsprung’s disease, Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome and Functional vomiting. He also is a survivor of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), and has recently been diagnosed with Parkinsonism, which is likely a result of his leukemia treatment.
"And we aren’t alone or unusual. Maybe my perspective is slanted too because I have dozens of friends whose children have disabilities, and because of how I often struggle to find an open handicapped spot at the children’s hospitals we frequent. I simply want you to understand that children can be disabled and get a parking placard too. And just for the record, I don’t use it unless my son is with me," she concluded.
What do you think of her response? Has someone been too quick to judge something you've done before?