It never ends!
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
I have been thinking about what to write in this blog. When we are up and running, I can share stories and pics from our day-to-day operation. Today, while I was at work, it came to me: what do parents of special needs children experience that parents with typical children don't?
When your child is born, you are overwhelmed with love for your child. There is nothing you wouldn't do to make sure your child is happy and healthy. It is, by far, one of the greatest things in this world that anyone can experience! As your child begins to grow and they get a little older, there is a shift in the loving experience that typical parents go though; parents of a special needs child go through something completely different. Parenting for those with a typical child vs parents of a special needs child are never the same.
True, both sets of parents still love their kids and that only gets stronger, but there is a difference. The parents with a typical child shift their attention to things like what their child is showing an interest in. Sports? Art? Academics? They spend their days running their children to practice or to a group activity, all the while starting to dream of the day when their child goes out on their own - where their child's dreams will take them.
Around this same time, the parents of the special needs child are told by a doctor that their child will, more than likely, always require assistance in some capacity. Whatever the label, it boils down to a completely different set of circumstances. At this point, the parents of the special needs child start to wonder what will their child be able to do? What are his or her limitations? Who will ever be able to take care of their child if something should happen to them?
Those first few years of being told your child has special needs are like a whirlwind. There are so many questions that need to be addressed and the parents spend 100's, if not more, hours doing research and making phone calls trying to get answers. (side note here)
I want to applaud all the moms (Jennifer Schiller) who go into momma bear mode at this point and become super parents and give EVERYTHING THEY HAVE to make sure their child gets all the services they are entitled to and deserve!
After those first 5 or so years of knowing your child is different you kind of settle into a norm. Again, this is completely different than what the parents of a typical child are going through at this age. Now, with the children being around 10 years old, our two types of parents are becoming even more different. The parents of the typical child have settled into their routine of driving the kids to soccer practice and Cub/Girl Scouts while at the same time starting to think about things like, if mom chose to be a stay-at-home mom possibly going back to work, or dad wondering if his son will be captain of the football team. They love their children but their focus shifts to the future and the dreams that they have for them.
While typical parents are going though all of that, the parents of the child with special needs are going through something completely different. Mom is still fighting for services, while also doing everything she can to make sure her child isn't left behind in the system. While mom has put blinders on to focus on her child, dad is still trying to come to terms with "your child has special needs." It is only (my) philosophy but I think dads with special need's children struggle with coming to terms with it because they don't know what to do. As a man, you think, when I have a son I am going to teach him how to play sports! Or work on cars! Or hunt! But when the doctor tells you your child will always need your help and they will probably never be able to do any of the things you were planning on, it rocks you at your very core!
The parents of the special needs child continue to focus on that child. The love is strengthened because of the bond that nurturing that child has created. Their is never a time when you think of planning for a future without your child being in your home - there is no feeling that you will have an "empty nest" when you have a child with special needs. In the home with the average child, the child becomes more and more independent, allowing the parents to be more independent as well - to rediscover themselves. You don't have to rush home after work to make your child dinner - you just send them a text and tell them that there are leftovers in the fridge; or, the child is going to his friend's house for dinner, or going out. The parents of a special needs child still have to rush home to make dinner - there is no independent child to make his/her own dinner, or go out with friends. They depend on you as if they were a toddler.
I want to be clear here, parenting is hard no matter what the situation. I am merely sharing some thoughts and some feelings from my own situation.
In closing, I will share my original thought: Parents of special needs children love them with all their hearts and on a different level because it never leaves the stage of that of a parent loving their helpless infant. They are our world!