8 Good Things About Being a Special Needs Mom
I am a special needs mom… and it’s not all bad.
Huh? There are good things about being a special needs parent? Yep. There are. Probably even a few things that might surprise you if you aren’t a member of the club.
Before you peek… what are you guessing I put on the list?
- handicapped parking?
- front of the line at Disney?
Sure, those things can be nice. But, if those are the highlights, that would be a pretty shallow list.
Instead, here’s my list of noteworthy benefits of being a special needs mom:
1. Taking life a little slower. Life is fast — too fast in my opinion. Running kids from one lesson or activity to another. Cramming weekends with tournaments, competitions and practices. Add in long hours of homework and maybe a part-time job in their teens… it’s a lot to manage.
There’s nothing truly frantic about the pace of our family’s schedule. Brielle has activities like Miracle League baseball, TOPSoccer, Special Olympics bowling and special events like the Miss Amazing beauty pageant. Each takes just an hour or two a week and nothing overlaps. She has very little homework and no job outside the household chores we give her.
Life for us is simpler and slower than most families, for sure.
In addition to our schedule, everything takes longer to do with Brielle, so life in general is naturally at a slower pace. Eating a meal. Taking a bath. Getting dressed. Walking to the end of the driveway to meet the bus. It’s all in slow motion.
And I definitely like it slower — to take in each moment. Priceless.
2. Appreciating differences in others. We attend many activities and events with families who have special needs children. So, we see children of all abilities and differences regularly, and it just doesn’t faze us.
More than just with special needs children, I take others’ differences in stride as well. It’s not that I don’t notice. I do. But it takes a lot of differentness to garner my attention. When it does, I honestly try to see the value and interesting-ness of their unique qualities, even the ones that might naturally bother me.
3. Not having to deal with certain things. Car insurance premiums. Teen pregnancy. Underage drinking.
Nope. Not going to have to deal with those with Brielle. Ever. And it’s kinda reassuring.
Read my post about some other things we’ll never deal with here.
4. Sharpening my parenting skills. Being a mom is a tough job — harder than I ever expected it to be.
It’s not necessarily about being a better parent. My experience has been that being a mother to a special needs child simply requires a slightly different set of skills.
Small skills that I used with Ashley became much more important with Brielle. Reading between the lines of what she says and doesn’t say (or can’t say). Treating her in age appropriate ways. Planning ahead and being prepared for anything and everything. Relying on routine to keep life steady.
I will have to continue to hone my parenting skills for many years to come. Brielle will continue to be our responsibility until my husband and I are no longer able to do so. We will be caring for her every need — meals, bathing, dressing, education, transportation, socialization, spiritual, financial, etc.
It’s not a bad thing in itself. It just forces me to continually sharpen those parenting skills.
5. Finding joy in small accomplishments. Sometimes I get a little discouraged when I read on Facebook about my friend’s children and their events. A driver’s license. Prom. College acceptance letters. Brielle will never attain those things.
Brielle’s achievements are relatively small, but I still find joy in them. Nothing goes unnoticed. I get excited about her ability to fix her own breakfast and go to the mailbox to retrieve the mail. But I also am amazed she can do so many things when the doctors originally told us things could be so much worse.
It does me good to be able recognize those small achievements and give them proper credit.
6. Being part of a supportive community. Seeing all of the spectators cheer with such enthusiasm for every one of the players at Miracle League baseball or Special Olympics bowling swells my heart. I find incredible support from the CMV Mommies group on Facebook and other moms I’ve met through Brielle’s activities.
Although being the mother of a disabled child does not automatically connect me to other mothers of disabled children, it does give us a starting point to find connections.
Sometimes, it’s nice to have someone who just gets it without a lot of explanation, endless questions or blank facial reactions.
I know Brielle’s life has touched probably many more lives than mine might ever. Countless teenagers have been her helper at Miracle League baseball or TOPSoccer or have been her buddy in school. Children and adults interact with her at church, school and in the community.
I know those interactions help shape who those people become. Maybe the next time they interact with a disabled child or adult, they will do it with more confidence or friendliness. Maybe they realized their problems might not seem so big compared to Brielle’s when they see her positive spirit.
In most situations, I’ll never know how Brielle affected others. I can’t imagine it being anything negative. I realize she sometimes goes unnoticed, ignored because of her differentness. But I’d like to think that more often than not, she has a positive impact on others.
8. Finding meaningful purpose. I always wanted to be a mom. I hoped to be a good one. I never imagined I would do so much for my child and still be given so much in return.
I found my purpose through parenting Brielle and writing my book about our experiences. My hope is that my book will be helpful to other parents. And yet, before it was published, it helped me sort through my memories and feelings.
It was a long process, but it is now available!
As a special needs parent, it’s easy to fall into the habit of looking at the worst of things and wallowing in self-pity. That’s just not me.
I truly try to be a glass is half-full kind of a gal. It’s not always easy, but I just try to remind myself of the good things, no matter how simple they are.
This post originally appeared on Brielle and Me.