The Parts that Make Us Lucky
Special needs parenting changes us entirely.
Special needs parenting changes us entirely. There is no denying that. Because the truth is -- the first few years are going to pull you so far away from who you used to be that you won't even recognize yourself anymore.
You'll find yourself looking in a mirror, bags under your eyes, either heavier, or skinnier, and not recognize yourself. It looks and feels like you've aged a hundred years. Or maybe you are standing in a crowded room, feeling entirely isolated and alone, and wonder if you are invisible. You'll wonder how your world can be so different. How you can relate anymore.
It will challenge everything you know. You will question yourself. Your purpose. Your strength. You will wonder why. And how. Why my child? And not theirs.
It will challenge your marriage. Your health. The way you parent your other children. Even your decision to have more babies. Your career and finances. Relationships. And not just with people. With God too.
You will experience the greatest love on this earth. And simultaneously wonder how it can be so hard all the time. You'll get shamed for being sad. And for missing the almosts and the 'should be's.'
You'll see the unbelievable beauty that this world holds too. Almost like you've been granted access to a special club. One full of forever hugs, This Little Piggy, Santa and smiles. You'll celebrate milestones long after you should. And it will be amazing no matter when it happens.
You also see unbelievable cruelty. And it will take your breath away the first time it happens to you. To your child. You think you'll be prepared. That you'll come back with some witty, snappy comment. Only, you probably won't. You will try and shield them from evil. And then spend the next few sleepless nights wondering how you can live forever and change the world at the same time.
At first you'll feel like it's a race against time. Against their diagnosis. You'll do everything you possibly can. Your hope will be challenged. Then you'll find acceptance and realistic hope. Then you'll want time to stop. You'll want to keep their bodies small. Because the world is kinder to children.
You’ll have days where you swear you can’t do it anymore. Where you are certain it will never get any easier. That it’s going to be this challenging forever. You’ll almost be unable to picture a world where you stand still. Where you don’t have to fight for basic rights, inclusion and easy.
And then you will have the most unbelievable moments. A moment that makes everything worthwhile. Your child will shatter a goal, a milestone, something they have worked on for years. And you will know it’s going to be okay. Because you believe in this tiny human and know that they are worthy and capable and amazing.
You will live and breathe hope and acceptance and kindness. And you will be sewn together with strength and determination.
Yes, special needs parenting changes everything. It turns you inside out and upside down. But here is the secret that you have to learn on your own. It also puts you back together as the person you were meant to be.
That's the part that makes us lucky.
(This post was written by Kate Swenson of Finding Cooper’s Voice.)
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It’s an honor to share our story friends.
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A gorgeous piece. 💗 I feel this so much. I was so shocked that people said horrible things to me about my two Autistic boys. It took years for me to know how to answer. Now I just wish them well and say bye. 🙅🏻♀️ No energy left to give those type of people. Love this post. 🙏🏼
I am not at all the parent I thought I would be. That rule book went out the window within weeks of #1 being born.
Having two more in less than 3 yrs after #1 was born made it even more challenging (#2 and #3 were born January and December the same year). Rather than having to explain why the younger two had rules while the oldest didn’t, we decided to go with the philosophy of, “We’re not raising children; we’re raising adults,” and disciplined the kids accordingly rather than having hard and fast rules.
But I’m so glad we decided not to stop after #1. 2 and 3 swear they weren’t traumatized by the drama that came along with having an autistic brother, but I still feel guilty. I still remember when #3 was 3yo and had a fight with her best friend at school. She was sobbing, and I literally had to peel her off my body because #1 was upstairs banging his head against the bathtub. She says she doesn’t remember, but I’ll never forget.
I’m grateful that I’ve learned to accept #1 for who he is. I’m glad I now believe him when he says he doesn’t want friends. I’m grateful that he’s comfortable telling us when he’s ￼done talking, especially on days he works.
And I’m grateful that #2 and #3 are happy, healthy teens who, even if they don’t remember the rough years, grew up with compassion and insight they might not have developed otherwise.