Facing dreams vs. reality

Published 12:23 pm Monday, September 19, 2016

Any mother, if she’s truthful, will tell you she goes to bed most nights rolling a movie through her head of all the things she did wrong that day and how she could have done better. The special needs mom falls into bed with this same movie while simultaneously praying her child sleeps through the night, isn’t getting sick, would do better in therapy, cursing her lack of patience, feeling extremely alone and too many times crying herself to sleep.

When we were pregnant, we dreamt of the beautiful, perfect baby we would have. We imagined joyful birthdays, lots of friends and triumph in the sports arena. We imagined ourselves smiling as we received chubby-arm hugs and sticky kisses.

What we failed to consider was that being a parent is also a painful and often thankless job that catapults us into a lifetime of worry about most things of which we have no control. But even in the worst of it, there are moments of “I love you,” gifts made at school and the early bonding moments that cement a good parental relationship that carries you through the hard times.

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A special needs parent has none of that. We’re left with a child that’s unable to express love and is bewildered when we have to hold him down for painful medical procedures. The special parent must watch helplessly while willing their child to be able to perform the therapeutic task that he’s been working on for the last year. The special needs parent is as different from their peers as their child is.

You know those cutesy little people figures on back of vans? The ones that depict the entire family often with a sports emblem of some sort? Or those vans with bumper stickers promoting their child’s honor roll status or attendance? If special needs parents had those the figures would come with wheelchairs, walkers, ventilators or a plethora of other medical devices. Our bumper stickers would hail the achievements of attending therapy three weeks in a row. That’s a big accomplishment for a chronically ill child. We don’t have bumper stickers because we don’t care about accolades or what others think of our kids. We understand that our world is grossly out-of-sync with everyone else’s.

But from one special needs parent to another, I want you to know that I see you. And whether you realize it or not others see and praise you. We see you fighting for that IEP, making those doctor appointments and being the world’s greatest cheerleader during therapy. We see you not only meeting the needs of your special needs child but the rest of the family as well. So, tonight when you fall into bed exhausted and that same old movie starts to play, stop it. Instead, say to yourself what God speaks over you daily -— well done! The day wasn’t perfect and it sure was messy but you got it done. It’s all God expects of you so you should expect no more.

For more, go to www.theJoanZone.com.