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Finding Gratitude in 2020 as the Parent of a Child With Disabilities

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It is common knowledge that Thanksgiving is a time to show thanks and gratitude. For me, gratitude has helped me through the darkest days as I sat helpless in hospital rooms. I would think of those without family and those who had worse situations. I would instantly ground myself and become less self-centered. Let’s face it — gratitude can humble you.

I vividly remember a hospital stay where my son, who happens to have Down syndrome and autism, was in isolation for days. The nurses were so good. I heard a child crying next door. One nurse asked if it was OK if she didn’t spend as much time in our room. I told her I would only call her if my son needed more medication. Apparently, there was no family available for the crying child. The child was alone. My heart sank. I was so sad for this child. My son was fighting for his life and I genuinely felt sorry for the kid next door. Gratitude will allow you to experience feelings and meaning you never even knew existed.

I am a pretty lucky lady. After all, my children are still alive and here with me. Some of my friends can’t say the same. One of the first thought carousels I had, when I became mom to a child with disabilities, was to accept the fact that I would have to watch children suffer. Some diagnoses have a short life expectancy. Just one child’s funeral is too many. I quickly realized that I could do it. I could help and be friends with others with no certainty of the future. All we have is now. And now, I can truly be thankful and grateful just for life itself.

If 2020 has taught me anything, it has taught me the value and quality of life. I am grateful that my son has not even had a cold for eight whole months. Never in his life has he been without sickness that long. It is one of the best reasons to be thankful. I can’t predict the future. However, I can choose how I think about the future. My son has taught me the bliss living in the moment can create. I strive every day to be more like him. He shows gratitude in soaking up the moment. In gratitude, I find happiness. I hope you find happiness in gratitude this Thanksgiving, no matter what is happening or what you think the future holds.

Originally published: November 29, 2020
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