I recently had a mom I know ask me to “meet” (facebook, e-mail) a friend of her’s that also has a son with challenges, just to encourage this other mom. Of course I agreed, who can’t use more encouragement? All moms need encouragement, and if your child (or children) comes blessed with more than the average challenges and trials, you need all the more support and encouragement.
I set about scrubbing shelves of sticky “I don’t really wanna know” and thinking about what I had to offer to encourage another mom walking this path we trudge of “a child with challenges”. I thought about the on-line mothering group I belong to devoted to networking and encouragement for moms’ blessed with children requiring extra. Children that need extra time for everything, children that need extra reminders for each rule or lesson leaned, children that need extra support, children that need extra prompts to get though the routine, children that need extra appointments, children that most importantly constantly require of the parent extra thought, extra creativity, extra energy and extra patience.
Every child, every adult has challenges and can at times simply be a challenge. God gave us all, even Paul, thorns. Furthermore, parenting is by definition an ordeal; take a 2 year old for a fast trip to the store for ‘just milk’ if you do not believe me. Sit down some night and briefly scan the debates on phonics vs. whole language readings, vaccination vs. not, or try to determine the safest car seat and you will see what I mean; and that is merely the start. Parenting will leave you ready for bed nightly before the kids are and rejoicing at Cat and in the Hat for the 56th night in a row because you simply do not have to think to “read it”. It is an unadorned truth that each child, each choice we are faced with, each struggle, each re-reading of an old and tattered book is a blessing, a gem in our lives. A moment to be treasured as we’ll never get that opportunity again, ever, and every flash today touches not only our children’s future, but our grandchildren and their children. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17
Parenting is hard, difficult, challenging, draining, exhilarating, amazing, wonderful, exciting, aw inspiring and magical. Then there are the extra blessed parents among us; for whom parenting is a bit more. Some of us God has chosen to be blessed with more, either a little more, or a lot more. A child that doesn’t talk till 5, a child with life-threatening food allergies so the mom can never allow the child to “buy lunch”; a child that is deaf, or blind, or a child for whom life is just so much more effort and no one knows why. Children with clear medical diagnoses, children with an unclear developmental or emotional trials. Some parents are called to function in ordinary daily life with simply more challenges. Some parents have the addition challenge of assessments, of strategies, of theories and accommodations to traverse in addition to the your run of the mill parenting contests.
That night, at some point, in pray and scrubbing and trying to stay in a state of pray and not default in to “when was this cleaned last and who did it? Me????” I realized something important. I blog and write what I actually need to hear. Look back the blogs about prayer in the life of a mom, it was the kick in the butt I needed (need). Posts about the whys of homeschooling, serve as a re-motivation (I doubt that is a word) of self; a reminder to ME of why we choose what we choose for our family. The list goes on. I blog what in reality I need myself.
God asks more of some of us, but we are promised that we shall be blessed for it. But He that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. Luke 12:48. Our children, special needs children, bring with them extra joy, but for that extra joy there is additional effort required.
Every child is 100% unique, an individual snowflake, a special and personal gift from God; crafted and created specifically for that set of parents. We can not begin to guess why God crafted THAT child for THAT parent, but He has a reason, now or tomorrow and all you and I must do is have faith (oh and work our tail off).
I am have an amazing, dear dear dear friend that is BLESSED to be the mommy to 9 glimmering snowflakes, ranging in age (currently) from 18 months to 20 years and each a testament to the glory of Him that created us. These 9 children are vastly different, incredible to be with, and each a living demonstration of God in the world. Over the past 3 years as Little Brother has gone from mere newborn to rocking and rolling ‘not to be left behind’ 3 year old, as Big Brother has gone from a bald non-verbal baby to a 5 year old with age appropriate speech and gifted math abilities; we’ve gotten to be close with this remarkable family We have witnessed their youngest girl go from shy to public speaker, their oldest from high school student to missionary and their twins from God’s intention to walking and talking individuals; the thing I have loved the most has been the getting to know the children not as a family but as people. The amazing, and enlightening observations and the remembering shared by the mommy. The mommy of this family has taught me so much about seeing each child as a separate creation. “I remember this one at 3……but never that one” or “She ___ before 2, that one not till 3.5” and so on – each child grows, learns and blossoms at their own rate; not to be compared to a sibling or to a stranger. These nine are a living breathing demonstration of that, and it is a lesson I have been blessed to learn from their mother.
Believe me I wonder, DAILY, the reason these two sprites were created, crafted especially for US. What call does God have on their lives and what purpose in my life is He using them for? I tell God often, sometimes quietly and sometimes rather loudly that I am not up to this, I am not smart enough, I am not creative enough, I am not fast enough, I am not _____ enough. I tell Him over and over and over again He has too much faith in me. Nevertheless; all He requires is that I keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing my best each new morning. The rest is for Him to know and deal with. I believe, I have to believe, our God is big enough for our questions, our cries and our biggest feelings; He is after all the parent you and I need to be for our very special children.
Parenting a child with a “special need” – be that need academic, be it developmental, be it medical, be it emotional or whatever it is – is not so much different than parenting a so-called ‘typical peer’, it is better described as “more”.
A good friend who is blessed with a son, that is gifted with many of the same extra needs Big Brother is gifted with — an extra need for activity, an extra awareness of EVERYTHING around him all the time (buzzing lights, texture of clothing), extra big feelings – described it perfectly “Oliver is just more; he is not different than his peers, he is just more than his peers”. Take any typical trait of a 4 year old boy, or 5 year old boy – put the word more in front of it and you have her son (and mine).
As I, and many of you, parent 24/7 a child (or children) with special needs, or extra needs, maybe ones that shall be outgrown, maybe ones that won’t be, we have to remember that our children are not less, we as parents are not less (even when the mall looks at us like we are horrible parents because our 5 year has been chanting for a cookie for 5 minutes and will not stop), their futures are not less. Our children like their ‘age typical peers’ are all individual snowflakes, blooming roses, crafted by the very hands of God Himself with a specific plan; they were entrusted by God to us personally, also, for a precise reason.
Ok I do not know how encouraging this was for YOU – but for me it did a great job kicking me in the butt, stopping my current whine fest and reminding myself who I am, who created me, and what I need to be focusing on —- now off to reread that post on pray….