Motherhood takes on it's own unique form with each woman. In honor of International Women's Day and all the beautiful roles women play every single day, I've asked Christy to share her experience as a mother of a child with special needs. Thank you so much for sharing, Christy.
I started getting concerned about Ava's speech and some peculiar behaviors around her second birthday...
Her little quirks were cute and made me feel warm; but from working closely with children pre-motherhood, I sensed some red flags. Although friends and family told me not panic, I was running circles on the inside. See, there's a superpower all moms gain when they have children, and it's called intuition. I went with my gut and got her evaluated.
Ava is now 3 year old preschooler with special needs, on the spectrum. It's a hard pill to swallow when you first hear it out loud. It's a tough reality to face. Especially when there is a therapist in and out of our home five times a week. And my child that is staring at me with tired eyes, just wanting to catch up with her peers.
Parenting these sweet children, it becomes hard to be honest about, because we’re trying everyday to be strong for our little babes. Parenting is already hard; we're all tired and want to hide in the bathroom for a lousy five minutes. But raising a child with special needs can often bring another level of fatigue. We get jealous! It hurts to see your child socially behind their friends. We cry! Sometimes we simply want things to be different for them. This journey is isolating, too. Not everyone will understand my child's needs, and it can leave us feeling left out. Plus, did I mention the fear? Constantly having the future in mind, wondering if she will be accepted, sometimes letting emotions drain into anger. Yes, you read correctly—angry! Angry because my child will have to adjust for the world, and not the other way around.
This unplanned journey, one I never expected, is one all the books that failed to mention. But I just want to say to parents of special needs children: You are not alone. It's okay to not have it all together. There are days when you don't feel like smiling with the other moms at the park because your child just had the worst meltdown; and not just any meltdown, an entire episode of communication breakdown, which led to their frustration, and fueled the melt. It's okay to not be excited about what your parenting journey looks like. It’s okay to mess up, because it’s hard; and contrary to popular belief, we mamas are not going to have all the answers. We learn as we go, just like any other parent. We face new and interesting things about our kids everyday.
So what do I do when I feel the weight of this? I get through the day with less force and more flow. I don't always know what my daughter wants or needs, and there are times I just end up crying with her. But I rejoice and dance about even the smallest progress. I get so excited, I feel the need to tell every stranger on the train how well she's doing. I praise and celebrate her existence even when there isn’t progress. I'm still filled with joy because she's trying her best.
I truly believe every special needs parent was chosen to raise their child. I couldn't see my journey of motherhood any different. I know many mamas like myself who are pushing through just to see the light. Don't give up! I know it's harder than what you expected. I know you're crying on the floor asking God why. Please, don't hold it in. Allow yourself to feel all the mothering roller coaster experiences. As your child grows, through their hardships and successes, you will grow right along with them. Don't let go of hope on this journey—it will keep you afloat."
(Image Via Christy's Instagram)