Parenthood is a rich journey. When you add special needs into the mix, the parenting experience is amplified, adding poignancy and humor. Here are a few observations from my tenure in special needs parenting.
1. Showers are a double-edged sword. You never know when the kids will bust into the bathroom to show you the new color they painted the dog. Or sometimes they actually leave you alone and you take your time savoring the peace, knowing that you’re gambling between finding all well or discovering that they have managed to get past the lock, deadbolt, chain and alarm on the outside door, and you’ll find them marching down the street in their PJs with several neighbors following them in their cars in an impromptu parade.
2. Somehow the child whose occupational therapist reports low finger strength and coordination can manage to unlock every device known to humankind and elope out the front door.
3. A hearing-impaired child can somehow hear you open your secret chocolate stash from three rooms away.
4. You are well acquainted with the strange blend of pride and chagrin that occurs when your child with cognitive impairment outsmarts you.
5. Social media isn’t just an outlet, it’s a lifeline. Some of your closest confidants and dearest friends live in your computer. When you see them in real life you can pick right up on conversations even if it’s been three years since the last time, but there are plenty you have never met. They are scattered across the country and world, but you share a sacred connection, and they are like family.
6. A good night’s sleep is your Holy Grail. You have heard that such a thing exists, and the notion is intoxicating. You pursue it as your life’s mission only to find it always elusive. Though many still claim it exists, you’re beginning to believe it’s merely a myth.
7. You wish there was a way to Teflon-coat feelings. Whether it’s the sting of a stranger’s look or comment, the frustration of unsolicited advice, or the observation of a professional that hits too close to home, a magical elixir that would wash away the bite of the world would be heavenly.
8. You have more wisdom, depth and strength than you ever imagined possible. Your parenting experience has stretched and challenged you, and you have risen to the occasion on behalf of the child who stole your heart.
9. Your typical child(ren) have richness of compassion and empathy and value all people for who the are.