Special guest blog by Kim Caifano, writer, speaker, life coach, and special needs mom. Learn more about Kim at kimcaifano.com
Every once in awhile I’m out in public and there is a child who catches my attention. Perhaps for a gross motor tic or a behavior that differs from his peers or an interesting use of language.
Immediately after that my gaze goes toward the mom. Because while I may not know specifically what is going on with the child, I often know that there is “something” and that the child is quite possibly a special needs child. And I wonder how the mom is doing. What stage is she at with all of this? Has she accepted this fact? Is she handling the situation in love? In anger? In frustration? And sometimes - has she even acknowledged this at all?
Moms of special needs children: I see you.
I may be just a stranger but I am also deeply acquainted with you because I am a mom of a special needs child.
And while I know it’s dangerous to over generalize anything, I would bet there are a number of things that are true of you:
I would guess that you didn’t grow up dreaming of having a special needs child. I would guess there was an observation phase that occurred where you looked at your child, and you looked at his peers, and all you knew was that something was different. I would guess that there was fear involved, fast and furious typing on the keyboard to look up symptoms on the computer. I would guess there was a certain doctor’s appointment where you received an official diagnosis, and you will remember that day forever.
I would guess there are days that are so. hard. And frustrating. And nights that you’ve cried yourself to sleep. I’d imagine there are more appointments involved than you ever dreamed of attending. And that this dramatically affects your schedule.
Perhaps that it’s hard on your marriage. Perhaps that you feel incredibly lonely in this journey because you’re not sure you want friends to know and look at your child any differently. That you worry about your child. Will he make friends? Keep them? Will he go to college and get married and hold a job one day?
Here’s what I also surmise:
That this diagnosis hasn’t changed your love for your child one bit. Perhaps it’s even intensified it by evoking a deeper compassion. That this has opened your eyes to accept and embrace a wider landscape of “normal” in society. That you are thriving in areas you don’t even step back and realize. Think about the doctors and types of specialists that YOU are now an expert in. That you are becoming a queen at adapting. Adapting menus and family vacations and public outings and family time. That when you tuck your child in at night you still gaze at their face and know them as your baby. And in certain senses nothing has changed at all.
Unless you are super blessed to have a maternal or paternal figure in your life who observes you, there will be nobody who says this to you:
You are doing great, mama. Keep on keepin’ on. Keep on loving and hugging and booking therapy appointments and meeting with the school and cooking special meals and extending that extra (extra!) patience that is needed for that moment. And then the next one.
Hear it from me one more time. You are doing a fantastic job. Chin up, pup. You are navigating something that you didn’t sign up for and nobody prepared you for and you will never get a reward for. I see you and I’m cheering for you.
This Mother’s Day month, celebrate that. Even if nobody else fully does. Seriously take one moment and celebrate this. Enjoy the most delicious slice of cake or glass of wine and say cheers to yourself.
I pray for an extra measure of grace and love to fill your life this month and for moments of refreshment and love afresh for your precious child. You’ve got a cheerleader in me, and I see you. ❤️ Happy Mother’s Day.
Follow Kim Caifano on Instagram and Facebook @kcaifano and read her latest writings at kimcaifano.com.
Kim also writes a weekly newsletter “You’re In Good Company” and you can subscribe here.