“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” ~ Christopher Reeve
The power of these words has forever changed my perspective on parenting. I am the mother of heroes - three to be exact! Why do I say this? Because I am the mother of three children with special needs. What does this look like? Well, “special needs” may not look the same for everyone or to everyone. It is a term used to cover, much like a very large umbrella, a host of disabilities ranging from mild learning issues to terminally ill. It refers to any child or person who requires special or extra attention or services.
Before I knew I was a hero’s mom, I considered my first child to be “golden.” You know the one... all the other children are drawn to him, the one who NEVER throws a tantrum, the one who learned to read at three…chapter books, even…smart, social, obedient. The one whom if someone took a toy from he would just go get another, no big deal. Then the second child came and life seemed blissful with two extremely well-behaved children. The second seemed to model the first, which was great for me. Although he ate a little dirt from the inside plants once in a while and liked to tear paper into very small pieces, I could live with that. Life was good. I didn’t relate much to moms who had out-of-control kiddos, and I may have even given The Look (you know the one) to a few of them. Several years later the third came along…and that’s when things began to unravel.
The oldest was a tweener, and challenges once hidden began to surface that would take us well over three years and lots of doctor visits to figure out. The third? Well, let’s just say he came out the womb swinging from the chandelier, impulsive and hyper. And then there was the middle one. He seemed the least needy until we realized he had his own set of issues surfacing that got overlooked simply because we were overwhelmed with the other two.
Going places became very difficult. I would literally have panic attacks before leaving the house when it was just me with all three of them. It seemed like a circus wherever we went. I stayed stressed, somewhat embarrassed and always making excuses and apologizing to others around. I felt like an out-of-control bad mother. I say this because I know there are many moms out there who feel exactly the same. It may look a little different, but still the same.
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me with so much.” ~ Mother Teresa
And often we feel terribly alone…but while the perfect Utopia dream of motherhood has fallen short, our unconditional amazing love for our children and our hopes and dreams for their future has not.
“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.” ~ Ellen Goodman
Simply being a parent can be difficult, but top this with being the mother of a special needs child, and it can be overwhelming. Are you the mother of a hero, too? The good news is you are definitely not alone. You’re not alone in your fears, frustrations or exhaustion. You are not alone in your good days and bad days, or days when you have more patience than others, or days when you just want to run away…days when you seem to have all the answers, and days when you have no idea where to go from here.
I wish I could say that all is great now and I am sharing because I have found the answers; however, the reality is this: It has gotten somewhat better with intervention, love and patience, but far from resolved. We continue to look for solutions or better ways of doing what we already have in place. Believing and pursuing “the knowing” rather than denying has been our greatest weapon. What I mean by that is “tell me what we are dealing with so we can move forward to a solution”….and that takes just as much courage as it takes for your little heroes to face life and what lies ahead!
“Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway!” ~ John Wayne
Just as much as they are your heroes, you are also theirs. You are their love, support, problem-solver and safe place…their best advocate. I consider it the highest privilege to have them in my life. They have strengthened, empowered and shaped me in ways I would never have known otherwise. I jokingly call our family The Incredibles, a family of not only heroes but Superheroes. We are strong and courageous. We have learned to bend and not break. We focus on the positive and maximize our strengths and abilities rather than our disabilities. We are more than conquerors. And we do this because, well, that’s what Superheroes do, right? So where is YOUR cape? Put it on and accept the challenge because the world could use a few more heroes – Superheroes, that is!
“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” ~ Christopher Reeves