There’s a time in your life that is so profound, it’s beyond words. Maybe you were a young child sitting in the middle of a long pew, and you had to work your way through a group of old ladies who smelled of Avon’s Sweet Honesty in order to get to the aisle … or perhaps you were at a revival meeting where the visiting pastor had a shock of white hair, wore a three piece suit, and spit enough spittle to fill a small bucket when he got on his holy roll … or was it a camp meeting, way out behind the cover of tall pines around a blazing bonfire with the sounds of crickets and frogs competing with the three part harmony of Our God Is An Awesome God? … Where it happened is only a minor detail. What really matters is that you’ll never forget how your heart thumped, how your hands trembled, and how your knees nearly buckled when you realized you were lost and in desperate need of Jesus.
It had to happen in that moment.
Because the sense of urgency was beyond anything you’d ever experienced before.
And so you asked the Savior Of The World into your heart.
You gave Him your life.
All of it.
And for a time, you allowed Jesus to lead you. The focus was on Him. After all, what did you, a mere sinner who was created from the dust of the earth, do to deserve eternal life? Not a thing. Your life had been bought with an extreme price, and you were fully aware of the fact that Jesus had left the glory of heaven to come to earth and suffer an indescribably cruel death for your sake. That if you had been the only one, He would’ve died for you.
Oh my goodness, with the weight of that truth comes a crashing wave of humility. So great is His love. But the human race is born into sin, and as has been proven throughout the passage of time, sin is a difficult habit to break. Abraham, Moses, King David, Sampson, Peter … each a legendary patriarch of our faith … yielded to sin. To think we’re immune to darkness when such strong men of the faith fell, is evidence of pride. And sin all began when the enemy of all enemies dared to believe he deserved to be on equal footing with God.
“Let ME be God!”
Pride was Lucifer’s achilles heel, and it remains at the root of every defiance against our holy Father. When we sin, no matter the category it falls under, the bold heading at the top of the page is PRIDE. Our will over God’s will. Yes, we begin our journey of salvation on the right path, but what the world has to offer is so tempting, so seductive. And eventually, we stumble. Sometimes we fall flat on our faces.
Thankfully, though, we serve a God who is absolute grace and mercy, and in His abundance of love for us, He lifts our blinders to allow us to get a glimpse of who we are. Just like a child who is caught in the act of disobedience, He shines the spotlight on our weaknesses. And in those divine moments, we again realize that we are powerless against our nature. That without Him, we truly are nothing. This is the gift of repentance. This is how we are transformed into His likeness. It’s part of the salvation process, the working out of our faith….so when we finally do see our Savior face to face, we’re ready.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Just my thoughts!!!
As a parent, how often do you rush to meet the wants and needs of your children? If you’re anything like me, it’s a constant. And it’s a pleasure, too, isn’t it? To have the opportunity to pour into a life. How much more, then, does our Heavenly Father, who is perfect love, pour into us without a moment’s hesitation? If you can relate, you’ll enjoy this vlog:
Would love to hear from you!!!
She was running late. Could her morning have been more disastrous? It all began when the battery on her phone died, which meant her alarm didn’t go off.
“I’ve told you over and over again to get a real alarm clock,” were words she could already hear ringing in her ears. Her mother was quick to offer unsolicited advice. She always had been.
Throwing off her comforter, the second her bare feet hit the floor, the single mother of two was in a mad dash toward the kitchen to check the time on the microwave oven. How long had that darned light been blinking? At some point the power had obviously gone out, knocking her clock into oblivion. She had no choice.
“Mom, hey…my cell phone died and so my alarm didn’t go off. Can you believe it? I was just wondering…what time is it?” As she asked the question, her eyes were squinted tight. She knew her mother’s response was going to hit her like a brick in the head.
“It’s about high time for you to grow up, Sarah. You’re a single mom who needs a job so you can support your family. How many times have I told you that you need a real alarm clock? That interview today is important….”
Before her mother could continue, the twenty-something year old with long auburn hair, interrupted. “Uhhhh, mom, the time?”
“It’s eight-seventeen, which means you’ve got exactly forty three minutes to get to that interview.” The words weren’t spoken, but were spit at her through gritted teeth. Unlike Sarah who was currently unemployed, her mom’s current full time job seemed to be constantly reminding her that she was a big failure.
Gathering as much courage as she could muster, Sarah took a deep breath. “Mom, could I ask you to come watch the babies? I’m not going to have time to drop them off at day care.” Her heart was pounding. Time was running out and she needed her mother’s help.
Following what seemed to be a dramatic pause, her mom finally answered. “I might as well be their mother….I’d certainly make a better mother than you. Yes, I’ll be there.” Without saying good-bye, her mother hung up.
What her mother couldn’t see was how embarrassed she was that her husband had had an affair, the tremendous toll the divorce had taken on her, and how much her children were suffering because of it all. Sarah couldn’t recall the last time she’d had a full night of sleep…nor could she remember the last time she’d washed her hair. If it wasn’t one of the toddlers waking in the middle of the night, it was the other. They needed water, had wet their bed, had a bad dream, or just wanted to get up and play. Sarah was a walking zombie.
Sleep deprived and feeling worthless, Sarah pulled into the parking lot just on time…but found no empty spaces. Driving into the parking lot next door, there was one slot left, but a car had parked at an angle and had taken up most of the empty space. Carefully creeping into the spot, Sarah tore her skirt as she shimmied out of the six inch space that was left on both sides of her car.
As she opened the front door of the office building, she caught a quick glimpse of her reflection. What had happened ? She used to see beauty when she stared back at herself, but now saw unkempt hair, dark circles under her eyes, and a frumpy frame. Wiping a quick tear from her eye, she shook her head to clear her mind and entered the building. She had to have this job. With this salary along with the child support, Sarah could keep her home. Without it, she’d have to move in with her parents. “That can’t happen,” she whispered, racing to the second floor of the building.
Stretching out her hand, Sarah gently took the hand of the towering man before her. “I’m Sarah Johnson, here about the office job.” Forcing a smile, she did her best to appear warm, friendly, and capable.
Her heart dropped, though, when he told her there was no need for an interview. She was a few minutes late for the interview, and for her would-be boss, that told him all he needed to know about her character. She was ushered out before getting a chance to explain herself. To make it all worse, when she made it out to her car, someone had taken the time to leave a note on her windshield to express what a horrific driver she was to have parked in such a tight spot. In addition to several expletives the letter called her an idiot who didn’t deserve to be on the road. Crumpling up the paper in her hand, she sat in her car and cried. How could she go home and face her mother or her children?
Just as she was ready to bang her head on the steering wheel and scream, her cell phone buzzed. It was her neighbor, a middle-aged widow who loved to come visit her and bring fresh bread. Picking up the phone, she read the text. “Praying for you. No matter what happens today, just be reminded that God sees ahead and knows. He’s at work right now preparing a way for you. Trust Him. He believes in you and so do I.”
The question is this: Who are we? Sarah? Sarah’s mom? The Would-Be Boss? the person who left the note on her car? or the neighbor?
Do we lead with compassion and love? Or with Judgment?
There are so many lessons we can learn from the special needs community, but I think one of the most important is about judgment. They don’t judge. Ever. I guess when God created these amazing individuals, he just took the judgment gene right out of them. And you know what? They’re a lot happier than the rest of us. The key, I’ve come to believe, is that they don’t really have much of an expectation of others. Their primary expectation is for themselves, and they give 100% every day. If you’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to you…but if you’re not nice to them, they’ll still be nice to you. Because they’re kindhearted. It’s who they are regardless of who you are.
If you’re frumpy, grumpy, running late, or running on empty…they’ll never judge. Instead they’ll love you, flaws and all. And it’s powerful. There is something incredibly disarming about being in the presence of friends who always lead with love.
I once heard it expressed that “expectations are premeditated resentments”. And I believe it’s true. It’s our expectations that entrap us. Think about it this way…if we always imagine people have a reason for doing what they’re doing, as with the case of Sarah in this example, it’s much easier to lead with kindness. Which leads to a much better life for everyone. It’s not about encouraging people to be victims, but about erring on the side of forgiveness…and believing the best in people first.
Maybe that person who was late to the meeting had an alarm clock that didn’t go off as planned…perhaps their intentions were pure and they feel really horrible about being late.
Maybe the reason that person parked in the tight parking spot next to you, making your efforts to get into your car uncomfortable, was because there were no other spaces.
Maybe she’s a single mom, raising two young children on her own for the first time.
You get the idea.
Grace. Mercy. Redemption.
It’s who Jesus IS.
And Who we’re supposed to pattern our lives after.
In this process, will we sometimes give a free pass to some nasty, thoughtless, inconsiderate individuals? Of course. But who cares? What does it really matter? In the whole scheme of things, especially in light of eternity, what matters most is the “who” we choose to be.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. ~Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)
Just my rambling thoughts today.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be nonverbal? I mean, completely non-verbal? Not one word. Ever.
That’s the life of Hope and Charlie.
The way they communicate is the way I would communicate if I was non-verbal. Through behavior, they show me how they feel and what they want or need.
Big hugs mixed with giggles means they’re happy.
Pulling me to the pantry or the fridge means they’re hungry.
Peering out of a window means they want to go outside.
Sounds simple enough, right?
At times, though, being non-verbal is so much more complicated. A bit tricky even. Because sometimes Hope and Charlie want to tell me they’re feeling frustrated, sad, or angry. Other times they want me to know they had a bad dream or that they feel bored or that they have a tummy ache or that they miss their big brother so much it hurts. During those times, they might throw things, pull my hair, melt down into a heap of wild and wooliness on the floor….or else find a corner to hide in with head down as if wishing to give up and disappear.
I wish on every single star every single night that they could be given the gift of speech.
But at this point, those stars are not the wishing kind.
I try to put myself in their shoes.
Would I want to try different foods? Explore different places? Meet new people?
If I would, they would. Even though they can’t tell me.
So we mix it up. We try new things. Sometimes we score big…other times it’s a total bust. But we try. Together.
We’re partners in the truest sense of the word.
Oh, you may say, that requires so much patience. Indeed it does, but not on my part. I have it easy. I have the voice.
It’s the Hope and Charlie’s of the world who can teach us all about what it means to be patient and to endure. Stop for a minute and think about all the things we get impatient about day after day. A restaurant forgot a portion of our to-go order. The traffic light took too long to turn green. The lines were too long at the grocery store. Our order from Amazon didn’t get delivered quick enough. The pastor preached beyond his time limit. A friend didn’t return a text until the next day.
We complain. We grumble. Then we post about it on social media.
And even worse.
We feel entitled.
To an easier lifestyle. To fast service. To perfection.
UGH. Isn’t it supposed to be the millennials who have the entitlement issues? haha.
I didn’t realize I had this mentality until Hope and Charlie came into my life, turning the world completely upside down. Or right side up. Yes, definitely right side up. They blasted into my space with their extra chromosome and shook things up big time. Changing my priorities. Showing me the difference between what’s important and what’s a throw-away. I don’t have it exactly right yet, but they are certainly teaching me.
How long will it take mom to find the splinter in my finger?
When will it dawn on her that I need her to lie down with me for a little while at night before I go to sleep because I’m afraid of the dark?
How can I let her know she’s tying my shoes so tight I can’t feel my toes? that bananas make me gag? that I’m scared of bumble bees? that I can’t manage steps too well? that I fell off of the swing today? that I lost my tooth two days ago? that someone stared at me and made me feel bad? that I can’t find my favorite toy? that I nearly choked on a piece of candy?
Until she figures it all out, I’ll manage. Making the most out of life. Wearing a smile. Giving hugs. Being happy with all I’ve been given.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be nonverbal?
Can you imagine what it would be like if we were all so patient?
Just my rambling thoughts.
To survive is one thing. To thrive is another. Being a special needs parent is not a blip of time that quickly ebbs and flows without much of a hitch. Far from it. It’s a lifelong role that will wear you out, twist you up, and throw you down … there are so many hitches!!!
The good news is you have options. Here are three simple strategies we can all utilize to succeed as special needs parents right now:
FIRST: This is your life, so make the choice to love who you are and what you do. Try this. Right now, wherever you are, close your eyes for just a couple of seconds to envision your special needs child. How do you see her in your mind’s eye? Carefully take in her face and all that makes her unique. Is she smiling? Does the sound of her cute giggle melt you? Can you feel her fingers entwined with yours? I’m guessing those images make you feel joyful. This is no trick … it’s a scientific fact. When we stop and meditate on people we love, our bodies release serotonin. It’s an instant mood booster. So whenever your journey seems more than you bargained for, when you’re feeling worn out and pushed beyond your limits, go back to this place. Hesitate and meditate. A dose of happiness is always within our reach and is as simple as a choice we can make.
SECOND: Recognize the difference between a calling and an assignment. If you are a special needs parent, hear me say this: You have been called! It doesn’t matter whether you were given this child through birth or through the gift of adoption, you have been chosen. When people say to you: “God only gives special kids to special people”, it’s the truth. Embrace it. Believe it. Accepting a calling is much more effective than merely tolerating it. And through acceptance, psychologists guarantee you will find empowerment. But how? It’s actually very simple. Practice by saying it. Speak it out loud with words: “This is my calling in life and I can do it!” When our brains hear us speak with authority, our bodies comply by believing it. The same is true when we speak negatively out loud, so don’t!
THIRD: Be real. While you can choose joy and accept the fact that this special needs journey is a calling, you must still give yourself permission to be real. Every single day, your child is completely dependent upon you … and this may never change. Perhaps she’ll never move out on her own, drive a car, marry, or juggle her own medical appointments. The monumental nature of your responsibility sometimes feels overwhelming and the “what if” moments hit you like a mack truck hurling from the sky. In those times, it’s necessary to be real. Cry if you need to….hire a babysitter, go out for coffee, schedule a vacation, talk to a counselor, write your thoughts in a journal, confide in a friend, join a church, or take yoga. Do whatever is right for you, but do something. Denial can produce depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and a host of other health issues. So be real. Be you. And remember, no one expects you to be perfect.
Don’t we all have the same goal? Being the best we can be for ourselves and for those who’ve been entrusted to us? By implementing these three simple strategies, we can take on this challenge and find success. We are in this for the long haul. We are in this together. And our kiddos are worth it!
Just my thoughts!
Charlie entered my life through the gift of adoption just over eight years ago. He has an extra chromosome, is on the Autism spectrum, remains non-verbal, and has sensory processing issues that often send him caving in the nearest corner. The baby of our family, he is also my sweetest cuddle bug and has me absolutely wrapped around every single one of his fingers. For me, Charlie is perfect; in fact, my life is complete because of this little Cheese Puff:
It’s not an easy journey, however. Selfless love is never easy. I’m Charlie’s caretaker twenty four hours a day for seven days each week where I serve as his head chef, his clean up crew, his security detail, and his best buddy. Most of the time I succeed. When I walk into any room, I break down each and every nitty gritty twist, angle, and point of view to locate all potential threats or hazards within seconds. Charlie can’t grasp danger, so that’s my job. Most of the time I succeed, but sometimes I fail. And in those times when I fail, my buddy doesn’t have a voice that allows him to summon me for help. Today was one of those days.
Can you see that ring around his right ankle? At some point during the night, Charlie managed to get a cord from a toy tightly wound around his ankle. Thank God it didn’t cut off all circulation. It was so tight, however, his foot turned blue. He can’t tell me how long he stood still beside his bed waiting on me to rescue him. It could’ve been hours. He can’t tell me how badly he was frightened or how much it hurt. All he could do was just stand there beside his bed waiting for me. And waiting. And waiting. Trust me, this is more than any special needs mom ever bargains for.
As the momma of two kiddos who have special needs, my guard is always up and I am always on. That’s not a prideful statement, but a necessary fact. I’d rather let down the rest of the world than to disappoint them. I must’ve said I’m sorry one-hundred times or more as he collapsed into my arms. And you know what? My love for him was enough. Because love conquers all fear, pain, disability, hurt, and trauma. Cuddled into my arms, the thought of being upset or angry with me never entered Charlie’s mind. Love fixed it all.
I correlate so much of being a special needs momma to our incredible Father who loves us so selflessly that He took all of our sin and imperfections and died for us, redeeming it all. We take pride in how intelligent, successful, or physically attractive we are…but the Savior sees us as a bunch of special needs kids. Just like Charlie, sometimes we get into an awful predicament. And perhaps we’re so trampled by life, stifled by our circumstances, or so broken that we can’t find our voices to call to Him for help. So we wait. And wait. And wait for Him to come. Know this, friends…not only is He always coming for us, He is always there. We don’t even have to call. And no matter our situation, He loves us beyond measure. Yes, love conquers all. It fixes everything if we allow it to.
This is what Charlie has looked like ever since being freed:
Tuckered out after a trauma-filled night, the little man won’t leave my side. Even in a zombie-like state of sleep, when I move, he moves. So I just sit here beside him, listening to him saw his logs, allowing him to feel safe. I am his security detail, after all. It’s part of the job.
In the same way, if you’re going through a particularly difficult time, know that God is right beside you, wanting you to feel safe in HIS arms. He is your security detail, after all. It’s part of the job. Let Him be your comforter today.
Just my thoughts…
The human brain’s primary goal is simple: Keeping us safe and ensuring our survival. Every time we formulate an opinion of someone, whether it’s a sixty second introduction or a lifelong connection, that opinion is based on whether our brain has determined we are safe or not safe in that relationship. And often, we form those opinions in less than one minute of meeting someone. We are a shallow bunch, right? Within sixty seconds of meeting a brand new human being, our brains fire up life experiences, prejudices, and pre-conceived notions in order to size that person up. There’s no fact-finding or exploration to the brain’s archaic process at all. Our brains, then, are wired to feel instantly secure with people who are much like ourselves. We not only want to survive and thrive, but we also want “our kind” to survive.
The mind of a special needs mom, however, is notably different which is one of the many positives that comes along with this unique journey. Her primary goal is to not only keep herself alive (so she can necessarily take care of the special one in her life), but to also keep her child safe and to ensure his/her survival on a planet where individuals who have intellectual and/or physical disabilities are too often marginalized. As a result, her brain is re-programmed to not sum people up in less than one minute. The special needs mom, in fact, throws everything she ever thought she knew out the window the moment she comes face to face with her child. In a flash, life is no longer the same…and never will be again. Pre-conceived notions? Prejudices? Life experiences? They no longer hold any sway over this mom, because her measuring stick has transformed into a magic wand…the woman suddenly wants to save the world.
When life flips to something brand new and unexpected in the blink of an eye, everything flips along with it. From this point on, she’ll give everyone a chance to be kind and good and patient and accepting…because her child’s survival depends on the human race being what it needs to be. Special needs moms, for instance, constantly seek out and watch to see how people view her child. She can spot a soft face, a smile, and understanding eyes even in a large crowd and she will return the smile. Always. If you don’t believe me, try it sometime. In addition, she’ll thoughtfully listen to how people respond to her child, hoping for the best. Kindness and warmth, even when void of understanding, go a long way. And when someone takes the initiative to bend down and look eye to eye with her little boy, it will catapult her heart into the heavens. That one simple act speaks volumes: “you have value” … “you matter to me” … “I don’t see myself as any different than you”. By choosing to serve others, even with the simple act of intentional kindness, you are a living sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
To a special needs mom, you can be cultured and educated or crass and unrefined…liberal, conservative, or a person who doesn’t give a hoot about politics…none of it matters. As long as you have true compassion and acceptance for those who are physically and/or intellectually challenged, you are in her circle for life. She’ll love you instantly and forever, because you and “your kind” actually are the key to the survival of the special needs child and the world as we know it.
The following pictures are of a little fella who was born with Down syndrome in an Eastern European country. The first picture is of him in the “baby orphanage” when there was still hope for him finding a forever family. The second picture is of him only a few months later, after being sent to a “mental institution” when he wasn’t adopted. The final picture is of his grave. Without touch, love, acceptance, and proper care, he died. This is the reality of the world we live in.
In our country, you might say, this kind of thing would never happen. And you’re correct. In the United States, an estimated 75% of children who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted….in other countries, that figure jumps to 90%+. Because of a genetic test, children who are diagnosed with an extra chromosome while in the womb don’t even get a chance. The statistics are staggering. There is no middle ground. As citizens of this earth, we either value all life or we don’t value life at all. Life not only matters while in the womb but also AFTER the womb. It’s life y’all.
Consider for a moment what a world without individuals who have special needs might look like. It would present an existence where the concepts of compassion, patience, and unconditional love are absent. Every human being has a purpose, even those who by the world’s standards are less than perfect. This is why the mind of a special needs mom is wired so differently. Our mission is not about the survival of a political party or a church denomination…our mission is about saving the best part of the human race. The human race, at it’s very best, is not power and strength…but when we purposefully choose to bow our power and strength to acknowledge the value of one who is considered “the least of these”.
“…and whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” Matt. 25:40
Just my thoughts.
To most people, a superhero represents someone otherworldly who fights evil and promotes good. This person is practically perfect in every sense of the world. Balancing compassion and mercy with a raw hunger for justice, this warrior is able to overcome seemingly impossible odds in order to protect the weak. He is a guardian, a defender, and as long as he is present, all in the universe is balanced.
And while most all special needs kiddos enjoy the likes of Spiderman, the real superheroes are quite possibly the ones who are behind the scenes in the day to day muck of life…demonstrating love, acceptance, long-suffering, and the patience of Job.
In my case, they are intelligent, beautiful young women who could earn just as much money babysitting for typical kids. Instead, though, they choose to make a difference in the life of a child who doesn’t have the attention span capable for a Disney movie or a picture book…and who is unable to understand the rules of a simple board game.
They could spend their time with a child who is is able to verbalize his or her needs, but choose to be with a nonverbal kiddo who expects them to be mind readers, seeing all…knowing all…and being all.
They routinely get smothered in slobbery kisses, slathered in mud-coated fingers, and clobbered by food that’s been thrown by the hand of a frustrated child…and take it all in stride, with a smile.
Vigilance is constantly required to make sure the escape artist doesn’t breakout while under their watch and that no one ends up playing inside of the toilet, climbing up on a dresser, or hiding in a garbage can.
Yet they don’t see a broken human being who needs to be fixed. They see a perfect little someone who simply needs an extra set of helping hands.
My Dream Team (as I call them) are amazing. I trust them, depend on them, and adore them. But when I watch my kiddos grow and blossom under their care, I know they are much more than any label I could give.
Because they really are Superheroes.
Balancing compassion and mercy with a raw hunger for justice.
Overcoming seemingly impossible odds in order to protect the weak.
Guardians and Defenders.
Balancing the Universe.
Practically perfect in every sense of the word.
Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, down syndrome, melanie hollis, non verbal, parenting a non verbal child, raising a non verbal child, raising special needs kids, special needs blog, special needs kids, special needs mom, special needs mom blog, Special Needs Parenting
Most little girls, at some point in life, play house. Pretending to be a mom, they push their perfect little baby dolls around in miniature strollers, acting out the role of protector, provider, defender, teacher, and friend. The role playing is not only healthy, it’s preparation for what is (hopefully) to come later on in life. Yet I think it’s safe to say that not many little girls ever assume the role of a special needs mom. As such, the God-given task at hand, when offered through either birth or adoption, is daunting and overwhelming. The identity shift is enormous. One moment you are heads, and the next, you are tails. The contrast is honestly that stark. And here are five things you need to know about the moms in your life who are on that journey:
- We are scared. The unknown components of this adventure we’ve been called to traverse terrifies us at our core. We juggle non-verbal kiddos who are prone to explore, yet who don’t understand cars, direction, or stranger danger. Our doors, therefore, display a host of different types of locks while our windows house hidden alarms. We shudder when we hear news stories of special needs children being abused and mistreated…and we become physically sick, overcome with terror, when one of our own dies at the hand of bullying, a preventable accident, or an onset of sudden illness. As we age, we think about our child’s future. A lot. We work tirelessly to set up a network of people who love them and who accept them, and we dare to dream that all will be ok even when we’re gone.
- We feel inadequate. If you do an internet search on special needs children, you will find hundreds upon hundreds of opinions on what works best for the advancement and progress of our kiddos. There are enough therapy tools to fill an entire city block. It’s intimidating. We’re intimidated. Our minds play tricks on us as we wonder if we’re doing enough. Sure, we love enough, but are we implementing the best procedures? Is it our fault that our child is not making a needed breakthrough? Most nights we are up late feeling guilty. Kneeling down beside our sleeping children, we pet their heads, kiss their cheeks, and promise we’ll do more the next day. And that is our intent. However, each day brings new challenges, so again, we close our eyes on the day feeling inadequate….wondering why God chose us….hoping we’re enough.
- We need family and old friends. While we may appear too busy or too distracted to enjoy a phone conversation or a visit, it’s true that it takes a village. If you don’t slow us down, we will work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Please hear my heart in this: You remind us of who we used to be before our identity became “the special needs mom”. Your familiar voice snaps us back into the awesome reality that life is much bigger than our child learning to potty, communicate, or ride a bike by a certain age. You are a gift to us in more ways than you can imagine. Not only do we need to hear your voice, we need your smiles and hugs. We need your presence. If we make it, and Good Lord, we have to make it, a large part of that will be because of you. So if you have a spare minute, call us or text us just so we’ll remember….because when you avoid us and when you’re silent, we forget.
- Sometimes people are cruel. When we go out into public, we are painfully aware that we are taking a risk. Because we’ve all experienced the stares, the off-handed comments, and the all-too familiar rejection, we are always in defensive mode when out and about with our children. As mommas, we want to protect our kiddos from a world that doesn’t always offer patience and understanding. But you can help with that. If you see a special needs mom out with her child, even if it looks like she doesn’t need your help, offer a word of encouragement. Tell her she’s doing a good job. Say a kind word about her child. Let her know, above all else, that you “see” her and that you “see” her child. Don’t look away.
- We make mistakes because we are frazzled. We wake to find our child has painted his entire room in poop. He eats the dog’s food with glee, but won’t touch anything that’s on his plate at lunch. When we’re not looking, he dances on the dining table buck naked, sticks his head into the toilet, and tries to climb up the chimney. He stuffs bark up his nose, hides rocks in his ears, and pees on the dog. He laughs when you scold him and cries when you try to teach him. He pulls his sister’s hair, hides in kitchen cabinets, and sleeps only four hours each night. So give us a break. If we snap at you, come off as a half-crazed nut job, or don’t answer a text right away, it’s not because you don’t matter to us. It’s just that life is different for us. We are a special needs mom!