What so many people do not realize is the many small joys that come from parenting kids that need extra help and attention. I am certain parents of typical kids do not jump for joy when their child finally writes their name, and walking and pointing are expected, not celebrated. Parents of typical children probably don’t realize that mastering cognitive, physical and attention skills can be REALLY major feats for a child whose brain is developing at a different pace.
Yes, there are days when I cry. I cry those deep, gut-wrenching sobs. I get pissed at God for making my son have extra struggles. I have spent many nights curled in the fetal position asking, “Why, why, why him?! Why does he have to suffer like this?” Yep, on those days it IS hard because my heart is overflowing with the angst of watching my child struggle with the things most kids do easily.
But it is said without pain we cannot know real joy. And it is in the joy I choose to delight my senses, to relish and roll, to find a place to land softly. It is in the joy we find the light of life, the reason to keep moving forward.
I am by no means disregarding the struggles that come from being a special needs mom. My child has bolted on more than one occasion as a toddler, and I was panicked to find him before some unwholesome person did. I’ve had to use all my muscles to calm a flailing, hitting child who could not self-soothe out of a meltdown. I’ve had to watch him alone on the playground because other kids chose to avoid him. The pain is real.
But there is another big piece to this puzzle – one that I want to share so you understand that this journey brings blessings that outsiders do not even notice.
There is great joy in celebrating all the small moments!
Life can pass us by when we aren’t paying attention. Those little things that so many take for granted become celebrated occasions in a household with special needs children.
I remember the first time my son said a regular sentence. It was right after he had done AIT listening therapy, and the therapy had reorganized how his brain was working. Before AIT his sentences were all mixed up. He would say things like, “Mommy, water, me, please.” But after AIT his speech spontaneously reorganized, and he said grammatically correct sentences for the first time in his life. He was 6-1/2!
And the celebration that ensued was more than just joy. There were tears of relief, a huge release of anxiety, a new hope that things were moving in the right direction. We were re-energized to help our child keep reaching and improving. We began to see the crack of light at the end of the tunnel.
For many this is a struggle to switch from the stress and agony of daily toil to one of optimism. I haven’t always been this way. In my 20s I was quite the pessimist, one who always saw the bad that could happen instead of the good that WAS happening.
But in my mid-30s I sought out a stronger sense of spirituality, and in that I learned to find the blessings in each experience of life. Because even in the midst of the anguish and fatigue, there are great blessings that enrich our lives and make the journey worthwhile.
With my son, the blessings are great.
- He has a persistence I never could have taught him without this journey. Years of therapies and special approaches have taught him to keep going, even when the going is hard.
- He has very solid self-esteem. He recognizes his accomplishment in overcoming auditory processing disorder, extreme attention difficulties, post-concussive syndrome and cerebral folate deficiency. He knows he can do whatever he sets his mind to.
- I have found a calling that sings to my heart. For over 25 years I’ve been a web/graphic designer, but I was unfulfilled. I wanted to do something that helped people; make their lives better. I have found that as a special education advocate and parenting coach. I can help other parents find the best solutions so their children can flourish.
- I believe in miracles. We were told our son would need group home care as an adult. There was nothing that could be done to help him. He will now grow up to have a typical life. It IS a miracle! I believe!
- And there are many more blessings!
What are the blessings in your journey?
I encourage you to look at your child and your journey and discover the blessings you find there.
- How is your child stronger or more resilient because of his/her experiences?
- How are you different?
- How is your family different?
- What seemingly small events have you celebrated because you never thought they could happen?
- How has your outlook on life changed because of this experience?
Focus on these blessings.
Each day consider one of the blessings you have received from this experience. Think about how it makes you feel, how it has enriched your life, and how it carries you in the times that are difficult.
In focusing on these beautiful moments, you will find the inner compass that keeps you moving towards that beautiful light of hope.
You and your child are a blessing to each other and to your community. Just bask in that energy and know for this moment, being a special needs mom is really not that hard.