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How a Special Needs Mom Answers the Question, 'What Do You Do?'

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Conversation fills the air. A waitress serves appetizers on a silver platter to well-dressed guests. Soon, I’m in a conversation with someone I’ve never met when the question comes up. “What do you do?” As in, what do I do for a living? What value am I providing to society? What is my worth, net or otherwise?”

Have you been there?

Do I say I’m a special needs mother? An author? Or a blogger? Though all three are true, the majority of my time is dedicated to caring for our son. Do I recount his latest achievement of conquering crawling at 9 years old? Or how he’s just now learning to stand?


I met another mom at a baby shower recently. She shared about her son and his antics playing with the dog in the swimming pool. I listened, wondering how I could relate to her. Interrupting my thoughts, she asked if I had any children. Yes, I answered. I shared a little of my journey and received the same blank look I must have given her when listening to her story. We were both moms, but we were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Special needs mom vs. non-special needs mom.

Is her role in raising her child more valuable than me raising my child with special needs? Who knows, maybe her son will be a future president. Is there value in raising Samuel? Is my worth as a mother less because my son won’t be president, a doctor or dentist? Perhaps, yes. But it depends on how you look at it.

When watching an action movie, we find ourselves routing for the underdog, overcoming all odds to surprise the audience causing them to cheer. My hope is that my son does the same. To point to his biggest achievement of surviving a lethal form of dwarfism. To share with the world that miracles happen. Though he may not walk or talk, I choose to focus on his life, a life that inspires without saying a word or taking a step.

Over the years, I’ve received many emails from other families who found Samuel’s story on the internet. They, too, were given a negative birth diagnosis. My son inspired them to believe that nothing is impossible. That hope is a precious commodity offered in the form of a little 20-pound package. Hope, inspiration… the stuff underdogs are made of, if you ask me.

And though I might not be able to relate to a non special needs mom extolling her child’s achievements, achievements my son will never reach, I find peace knowing Samuel touches lives in unique ways. So when I’m tempted to think my journey as a mother is less than other mothers’, I need to be reminded inspiration is a great achievement. May all our lives inspire.

As I go to a wedding this weekend, I’m sure I’ll be asked what I do. I can proudly say I’m the mom of a miracle. I’m special needs mom.

How about you? How do you answer the question, “What do you do?”

Follow this family’s journey on Miracle Mann.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: What’s one secret about you or your loved one’s disability and/or disease that no one talks about? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to 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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Originally published: July 6, 2015
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