Being a mom is nothing like I expected it would be, but I wouldn't change it. What I have learned as a mom has transformed me into a stronger, more confident person. But motherhood is more than what I've learned--it's what I've felt. Motherhood has brought out more feelings, more emotion, than I ever could have experienced otherwise. I have three very special children: a child on the autism spectrum, a child with a rare blood disorder, and a child born with a birth defect. This Mother's Day, I want to write a tribute to all those moms of special needs children, because even though our challenges have all been unique, I feel you.
I know what it feels like to wonder why your child isn't hitting milestones, and to wonder if you didn't do enough to help your child reach them.
I know what it feels like when you wish you could do more for your child, but also feel like you're not doing enough.
I know what it feels like to compare your child to others, even though you know you shouldn't.
I know what it feels like to be afraid of the behaviors your child is displaying, and wanting to hide from the world. Fear is a powerful emotion.
I know what it feels like when your child gets stares and whispers in public. It hurts--so much that it often ends in tears.
I know what it feels like to take your child to doctor after doctor, hoping you will get the answer this time, but also secretly hoping you won't, because you don't want your life to change, or your child's future to be different.
I know what it feels like to sit in waiting rooms at doctor's offices, looking around at all the other parents like you with special children, and realizing that this is my new life, my new world.
I know what it feels like to hear a doctor give your child a diagnosis, and having your life change in an instant.
I know what it feels like to cry yourself to sleep at night, wishing you didn't have to face all these challenges with your child, wishing you could take it all away and just have a "normal" life.
I know what it feels like to have your hope taken away from you.
I know what it feels like to be on the phone--a LOT.
I know what it feels like to have no one understand your situation.
I know what it feels like to send your child off to school, and hope and pray they have a good day.
I know what it feels like to have a child with mysterious and frightening symptoms--so mysterious that your own pediatrician can't tell you what it is--the helplessness.
I know what it feels like to have an out of control household--so chaotic that you often surrender your desire for any control at all, because nothing you do works.
I know what it feels like to have a baby whisked away from you right after birth for testing, to be brought to the ICU because something is wrong. All you want to do is hold your new baby, but you can't.
I know what it feels like to wait for your baby to be observed, and watch the hours tick by, having no idea what could be going on.
I know what it feels like to experience uncontrollable guilt after hearing your child has a birth defect, or any other illness or disorder. What did I do wrong? What did I not do better?
I know what it feels like to have your child go through surgery. It hurts to see your child suffer.
I know what it feels like to be tired--physically, emotionally, and mentally--so much that your body hurts, and you wonder how you will possibly make it to tomorrow. But you do.
But you know what? Even with all the hard things us special needs moms go through, I also know what it feels like when you see your baby smile for the first time.
I know what it feels like when your child does reach that important milestone--even if it wasn't accomplished on the bell curve for "typical" children.
I know what it feels like to suddenly see your child for who they are--the moment when their diagnosis doesn't matter anymore. It's a liberating feeling.
I know what it feels like when your child achieves a new skill that took days, weeks, months, maybe even years to reach, and knowing that all that hard work really was making a difference. You just couldn't see it or believe it until now.
I know what it feels like when your child makes friends at school--real friends. You feel on top of the world.
I know what it feels like to fight for your child--something you didn't know you could do before.
I know what it feels like to see this motherhood thing for what it really is--a selfless path of learning and self-discovery through the eyes of your child--an opportunity to live with a love so strong that it's indescribable. No challenge, no disability, no health issue can take that feeling away.
Maybe your motherhood story wasn't what you expected, either. You are strong even if you don't feel like you are, because you are doing something right now to help your child achieve their greatest potential. Yes, it may cause you to feel weak and tired from all the extra tasks required, but you are already strong because you are a mother.
To all the moms of special needs children, I salute you and celebrate you this Mother's Day. You are doing a great job. And remember, you are not alone. I know how you feel, just like many others like me do.