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When I Feel Alone as a Mom to a Child With Special Needs, I Remember This

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My son, Mareto, came home from Ethiopia as a sweet, wide-eyed and peaceful baby boy. Having a child was a dream come true for me, and I cherished every moment — even the nighttime feedings.

There were several moms at our church who were pregnant with babies due right around the time Mareto came home. While they talked about their kids’ growing bellies, I sat on the sidelines and thought about the paperwork I was laboring through. While they shared delivery stories, I sat quietly and thought about the trips I took around the world while I held my sweet son. At times I wished I could relate to their stories, but I didn’t mind too much because I figured after a little time passed, I’d be just another mom among all the other moms as we raised our kids.

Photo by Anecdotally Yours

So it came as a sad surprise to me when months passed and I still felt so alone and different in parenting. Why couldn’t my boy sit through church with me like all the other babies? Why did my son fall apart when we tried to take him into the nursery? When the congregation sang or applauded, why did my baby begin crying hysterically? All the other kids started eating solids and saying words. Why didn’t my boy call me “Mama” and start talking too? Was I a horrible mommy? Why wasn’t my son developing like all the other kids? Mothers shared milestones on Facebook, and I cried behind my computer screen.

Soon it became evident that something was different about my precious boy. I knew he wasn’t like the other kids, but I didn’t know why. On September 5, 2012, we learned the reason behind all of it. Autism. One word and I felt more alone than ever before. I didn’t know anyone with a child with autism, but I knew our world would never be the same.

While other mommies took their kids for mid-morning playdates, we drove to therapy. When other children enjoyed birthday parties and gatherings, my son melted down – overwhelmed by all the people and sounds. The other kids his age were beginning to speak in full sentences and ate sandwiches; Mareto communicated mostly by gesture, and we were happy if he ate a bowl of oatmeal once a day. Other moms brag about their child who just went in the potty, and I wonder if I’ll be changing his diapers when he’s 5. If I let it, having a child with autism can be a lonely place.

A special friend sent me an email with a portion of her daily devotional. I read the words, written by Beth Moore, with tears in my eyes.

Blessed are you when what takes the natural course with someone else means that a miracle has to happen for you.

I’ve got a friend that I admire so much, a young woman in the Houston area who has a son with autism. He, like many children with autism, did not speak for many years.

When he was about 4 and a half, I got a text from his mom saying, “He said ‘Daddy’ today!” Nobody on the planet has ever had that much celebration over saying the word “daddy.” Nobody! You can’t imagine how all of her friends just shouted praise to God.

Other kids have been saying it all day long and no one noticed, but we noticed when this one did! What had been a natural course for someone else had taken the supernatural power of God for this little boy.

What seems effortless to some may take miracles for others. But I’ve never met anyone who afterwards would have traded the miracle! I know it’s hard to imagine that when you are in the midst of it, but trust me you’d rather have the miracle.

Through the miracle of my son I can see that I’m never really alone. I believe God sees every struggle, every tear and every lonely moment. He holds my hand through it all even when I can’t feel his presence. Mareto has opened my eyes to see the miracles in our everyday lives. I’ve been blessed to find friends who have risen from the crowds, wrapped their arms and prayers around us and decide to take the steps to go on this journey with us.

Mareto has given me more joy than I ever could have imagined. We work so hard and we delight in each triumph. There are many joys to be found in the little things and that’s where I choose to spend my days — finding joy in what might seem like ordinary moments for others… but are truly extraordinary moments for us.

And because we’ve been given the gift of Mareto (and his little sister, Arsema) I’m never alone. I have more love, more affection, more snuggles and more hope than ever before… all wrapped up in a very special boy.

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Originally published: January 20, 2015
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