My Child Has a Disability, but I'm Not Special
We aren’t special.
You may be reading this because you find yourself holding the title of “special needs parent.” I have some things I would like to share with you.
FACT: Parenting is hard.
Let’s be honest, I have a hard time deciding what pants I want to wear each day… and I also have to dress my kids, too? Some days, just getting them fed is a chore. In hindsight, parenting a little version of myself is often much harder than I anticipated.
Parenting in the day to day can be trying, but what about the big life decisions? Medical, educational, financial, parenting through hard things (like bullies or explaining death to a preschooler). You know, the big stuff.
The way we parent will impact our children’s lives for the rest of theirs. Wow. That’s heavy (and potentially stressful) when you really think about it. None of our children came to us with manuals or how-to books, so we are basically just winging it anyway, am I right?
Now let’s add disability into the mix:
FACT: Parenting kids with disabilities can be really, extra, super duper hard.
You, friend, have been given a child who may be different. There is no other child in the world who is just like yours. As a parent to a child who has disabilities, you might find yourself experiencing things and asking yourself questions that you never expected:
Will my child ever talk?
Will my child ever walk?
Will my child ever get better?
Will my child ever be potty trained?
Will my child ever sleep through the night?
What education choices are best for my child?
Will we ever be able to leave our house without meltdowns and stares?
Will we ever see progress beyond this point?
Will my child ever make friends?
Will my child ever develop any kind of safety awareness?
Can we afford all of the equipment and supplies my child needs?
Where will the money come from?
Who can I trust to care for my nonverbal child?
Who will care for my child when I am unable to do so?
Those are often worries and stresses experienced by parents in our community. Just know you are not alone in any of it.
Such a job and child probably requires a “special” type of parent, right?
I bet you’d love to have a nickel for every time you’ve heard someone say, “God only gives special children to special parents. You are so strong.”
Hearing those things might make you feel like you should be stronger and more capable. It might even make you feel that God has singled you out for this (sometimes) difficult job. I know people mean well when they say these things, but I feel like it actually does a disservice because we are not special. We are not any stronger than any other parent in the world.
(OK, before I jump to conclusions, perhaps you are amazing, strong, brilliant and special. The perfect parent in every way. If this is you, then you can stop reading now, because this is for the “rest of us.”)
We were just regular people who became parents. Then, boom! We were suddenly the parents to a child with a disability. No prior training, no experience, no super powers. No hidden spidey sense, no wizard’s wand that helps us work magic. So, we aren’t special or strong. We are just regular human beings trying to do the best we can at this parenting gig.
Parenting kids with disabilities is done every day by regular parents who just love their child more than life.
I find comfort in that, knowing I’m just like everyone else. I have been given an extraordinary mission: to parent a child with a disability. I have been given a very important job, and I just need to rise to the occasion.
I don’t think God looked at me and said, “Wow. She’s so strong. I’ll give her a child with a disability. ” I personally believe He allowed this for me to become stronger.
And it has made me stronger. It has also made me more understanding, more patient, more sympathetic, more laid-back, more diligent and more determined.
I might not always know what I’m doing, but I’ll learn. I don’t always know the answers, but I’ll take him to specialists who do have the answers. I’ve learned I cannot control everything, and that is OK. I believe God entrusted me with this very special person, and He is going to make sure we’ve got everything we need. My son is a precious gift from God, and I know I am blessed to be his mommy.
I have never thought myself “special,” but I was given a son who is. I’ll do what it takes to give him his best life, to be successful and to be happy. I’ll sacrifice. I’ll love him. I’ll love him more than I love donuts… and I really love donuts.
For more encouraging words, check Deidra Darst’s book, “‘Buy’ One, then Get One ‘Free’: Our Journey from Infertility to Autism.” It can be purchased here.
Getty image by olesiabilkei