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Challenge: Kids with Special Needs

To Special Needs Parents: I See You

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I've written and deleted this post several different times now. I'm a bit unsure how to begin.

Can I be honest? I'm a little nervous about putting my foot in my mouth.

I don't want to come off patronizing, or as if I'm pitying you, or even that I'm putting you on a gilded parenting pedestal.

And my first thought is to say, "I don't know how you do it."

But I know that's silly. You do it because you love your child fiercely, just like I love mine. People often say that to me as a working mom and I always think, "well, who else is going to if not me?" Because of COURSE I do everything I can for my children. They are mine. Mine to nurture and love and protect.

Just like yours. We're so much alike in the way we love our children. But I know the way we experience motherhood must be different.

Because I see you. And I admire your strength. Your resilience. Your determination. You didn't sign up to be a special needs parent. When you saw a positive pregnancy test, you likely didn't expect to be joining that club.

But you press on. I see you researching treatment plans and physicians and schools and curriculum in the wee hours of the night. You're all-in and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to advocating for your child. I want to give you all the virtual fist bumps for that alone.

I see you celebrating milestones, even when the timing is "delayed" with the joy that every mother should have while watching her children accomplish new things.

I see you handle curious stares and probing questions from other adults and children alike with more grace than I could ever muster. Your patience and willingness to educate others is not lost on me.

I see you cringe when people talk about wanting "healthy" children. I know that autism or another syndrome does not an unhealthy child make.

I see you living full and beautiful lives with your children, in spite of every perceived road block, every appointment with a specialist, and every night that your mind fills with worry.

I don't know if I'll ever be a momma to a child with special needs. But if I ever am, I hope I handle it with half as much grace and fortitude as you. Motherhood is oftentimes a thankless job, and the motherhood you're experiencing may be exponentially more thankless.

But — pinky promise — the work you're doing does not go unseen.

For more of Kelly's writing, check out her blog, The OK Momma. She can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.

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