The Top 6 Reasons I’m a Thankful Special Needs Mom


As I ponder what to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, it’s easy to find an answer. These are my top six reasons to be thankful.

Reason #1: A miracle in the making.

A few weeks after my son Samuel’s birth, he was diagnosed with a rare form of dwarfism called thanatophoric dysplasia. His days were not promised to us. Indeed, we lived each day understanding our son’s life was precarious. Days turned into weeks, and soon we celebrated his 1-month birthday.

Then, on his 6-month birthday, he came home from the hospital.

That was 10 years ago. We no longer celebrate “month” birthdays, but this Thanksgiving, I thank God because I believe he gave us us the blessing of raising a miracle.

Reason #2: A boy’s love for his daddy.

As I lean over to lift my son from the car seat, he presses his arms tightly to his body. I stand up and pause. Hmm, that’s unusual. I try again. Same reaction.

I ask my husband to try. As my husband approaches, he wiggles his fingers and offers his son a huge smile. My son looks up, flashes his pearly whites and raises both arms in the air.

I nod, now understanding. He wanted his daddy to pick him up, not me.

I’m not upset by this change of procedure. I’m delighted to see this relationship between my husband and his nonverbal son.  He loves his daddy. Now, he looks for his Papa to pick him up all the time. I am thankful for this beautiful interaction showing what love looks like.

Reason #3: The wealth of health.

I’ve never been more grateful for health than now. Could it be, as I tip toe into my 50s, health has more bearing? I pray fervently for my sweet son to have health. Indeed, I have prayed for this boy daily all his life. Every sniffle, runny nose and cough raises my eyebrows. So it is with most mothers.

My toolbox has a couple of extra tools to help my son. A nebulizer to help his coughs. A concentrator for low oxygen levels. And suction equipment to help with mucus.

But, more than the tools, I am thankful for not needing to use them. For days upon end, his equipment is silent. The “on” switch stays in the “off” position. For this, I am most grateful.

Reason #4: A boy’s toys (his iPad).

Eating at Texas Roadhouse, we placed Samuel in his stroller at the end of the table. As I devoured my salad, the patrons next to us get up to leave. Passing by the stroller, an elderly gentleman stops and observes Samuel’s fingers flying over the touch screen of his iPad.

“My, he sure knows how to use it.” He then chuckles, adding, “Kids these days.”

I imagine he might have been thinking of his grandchildren. And yes, my son knows how to whip his way around the YouTube Kids app and photos on the iPad. This is one of the tools in our parent toolkit. And I am thankful. It keeps him re-focused (most times) off of his other love, cereal.

Reason #5: Every parent’s go-to: O’s.

My son is quite motivated by a round piece of cereal in the shape of an O. He has learned to stand reaching for this golden circle. He is attempting to walk (sideways) to reach this morsel on the couch. He will obey commands from the school teacher in attempt to not only please her but to secure a delectable reward.

And so, I am thankful for a bag of Three Sisters brand Honey O’s. Don’t leave home without it.

Reason #6: The preciousness of life.

I pick up my 22-pound package of love and hold him tight. I tickle his belly, and he erupts in laughter, making his whole body shake with joy. My laugh lines appear as I add my giggles to his. I gaze into his face, awed. How did I get so blessed?

It strikes me all at once how precious life is. I take these moments, press them into memory and seek to add more, day by day. I’m thankful for the snuggles, the giggling and the laughter of a child. A special child who has exceeded all expectations of a lethal diagnosis of dwarfism. I thank God for this gift.

Thanksgiving — not just a day, but a daily habit.

Follow this journey on A Miracle in My Living Room.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or illness during the holiday season, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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