I’ve never been one of those moms who sees her child’s special needs as something she wouldn’t change if she could. I’d grab that magic wand and wave it over my son’s head with no hesitation, if one existed. While I’m incredibly thankful for my son(for all my sons), I don’t usually think about being thankful for special needs.
So when I was challenged to find the positive about special needs parenting, it really and truly was a challenge.
I wanted to sarcastically toss out that I’ve learned how to juggle multiple therapy appointments and that my son can swallow pills like a champ. And that I’ve learned a whole new language that sounds an awful lot like alphabet soup to those not in the know.
But then I really thought about it. There are lessons I’ve learned as a special needs mom that I’m truly thankful for.
You never know someone else’s story, so don’t judge.
While I’ve always had an opinion that whatever you are doing with your kids is your business and I don’t need to tell you how to parent, being a special needs mom cemented this for me. Because my son has had moments when he’s melted down or shut down or said something that would be so easy for someone to judge and find me lacking as a mom, thinking that all that is needed is a firm hand and the problem would be solved. But I understand that it’s different and just not that easy when you are dealing with a special needs child. So when I see a mom having a rough day, I don’t assume I have the solution or that she’s doing anything wrong.
Finding someone who understands is a blessing.
When I was a new mom, I became friends with women I had absolutely nothing in common with other than having a baby the same age. We headed to moms’ groups and were so relieved to find someone going through the same things. It works much the same way with special needs moms. Last week, I met a woman whose son has the same PDD-NOS and ADHD diagnosis that my son has. We gabbed like we’d known each other forever, exchanged phone numbers and are planning to get together next week. While I appreciate all of my friends, it feels really good to be able to talk to someone who truly gets it.
Fight for your child.
This might sound like a no-brainer. But there have been times when I’ve thought eh, this isn’t all that big of a deal, I don’t need to put up a fuss. So I let things go. Things I should have addressed- like the horrible teacher my oldest had for first grade(as a former teacher, I don’t take it lightly to say something negative about a teacher, but this one was really awful). But from having to fight for one of my children, to be sure that he got all the help he needed, I learned that it’s okay to speak up and fight for what all my kids need(at least when it comes to the important stuff).
Celebrate each victory.
We clap and cheer the milestones when are our kids are babies. But somewhere along the line, we start taking progress for granted. But with my special needs child, who had to fight for that growth, I notice it more and celebrate it. Not just with him, but with all of my kids.
Love is the most important thing.
Even on those rough days, I never question how fiercely I love my son. How fiercely I love all my boys. And how much they love back. That can get you through anything(well, love and a bottle of vodka).
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