We like to believe we’re princesses in our own fairy tale, shaping each day with our prince and royal heirs as close to the version of our dreams. We’re taught to be it all, do it all, to have it all as we go to college, find Mr. Prince and begin planning our fairy tale life with kids. But what happens when our kids aren’t what we dreamed of? What happens when motherhood doesn’t tuck itself neatly around the edges of the life you planned? What happens when one word, a definition, or diagnosis comes in the like a thief in the night, stealing your dreams and leaving you to make the best of the mess it made?
One such sentence stole my dreams, altered my reality, and taught me what real motherhood is. It has been my enemy, my confusion, my faith builder, my teacher, my passion, and surprisingly at times, my friend. It has stripped my definition of motherhood and shaped my heart to love deeper, to open my doors to all of humanity, it’s no longer reserved for just my kids. It’s opened my eyes to just how messy life is, for me, for you, for everyone.
It taught me to look at the world through a different lens, one where nothing has perfection and there is no such thing as normal. It has unveiled the true depth of compassion, defined the meaning of miracles, and has pushed me so far into the character of Christ, I can’t see anyone or anything without seeing our Creator first.
The sentence “Your child has,” no longer holds fear over me. Instead it creates answers, understanding, and a way to figure out how to dream about the future. When I first heard, “Your child has…” it came with the sting my child was somehow defective, a nuisance to her teachers as they stated she was disrespectful, lazy, and disorganized. But I knew just how much she was struggling to keep her head above water.
For years she struggled and just when we thought the puzzle to Cheyenne’s mind was solved, another symptom or issue popped up. No one could figure it out until she was the verge of being kicked out of school for lack of trying.
“Your child has autism,” became the answer we didn’t want to hear at first. Yet it was the missing piece to the puzzle of why she couldn’t look her teachers in the eye, why she didn’t make friends easily, why she wasn’t interested in the same things as other kids her age.
While her therapist limited her future to being in need of assisted living, defined her as high functioning on the autism spectrum, I tuned her out as my heart bled and shattered and attempted to re-piece the word normal.
It was the answer to all the facts she knew about science, wildlife, and nature. It made us understand her need for enclosed, small spaces; why she liked to sleep under her bed, why she loved being on the roof, and why she was so compassionate towards her friends when she had them.
While the world tells me she doesn’t match up, I see a woman child who not only bears grace but shines it. While the world sees it as a disability, I see it as a gift.
Your child has
…means letting go of old dreams and allowing new ones to take root.
….facing obstacles, becoming more resilient, more knowledgeable, more understanding, more passionate to advocate for her needs, her education, her social life, her future.
….means creating routine, family life, a comfort zone and a chance to transition to new things and trips.
….means helping her face her fears. Taking each one and setting it as a target for her to take aim and make her mark.
….smiling from ear to ear when we get a great smile for school pictures or family pictures.
…thanking God when she is able to express her emotions in words or through her art.
…means replacing the old voices in my head and to stand on firm truths.
How did I miss the signs, what kind of mom am I, I must be so selfish, how could I have not known, I am so stupid.
And replacing it with God’s truth, “I am with you, you can do this through the strength I give you, I have a plan, Be still and know that I am God.
Hearing “Your child has,” came again. This time with my son, “Your child has severe ADHD with OCD tendencies.”
It became a rich blessing. Day after day, I stood out in the hall with all the other parents while our preschoolers bounced out of class before jabbering, “Mommy, guess how naughty Elijah was today,” or “Mommy, Elijah couldn’t sit still and got in trouble, he didn’t get his green card but I did because I listened!”
While the world states ADHD is over diagnosed or parents like myself need to get a handle on my kid. I can tell you it’s real, it’s difficult but it is also blessing. It meant understanding….
…his inability to control his impulsiveness.
…means ignoring ignorant parents who think medicating my child is a result of not wanting to deal with him or smiling politely as they tell me medication is the root of all evil.
…means to wait for him while he’s still thinking.
….remembering to give him transition time from one thing to the next.
…means teaching him to STOP, ACT, and THINK. As we recite passages about Self-Control, I pray for self-control too.
…means embracing the gift of touch, to offer more affection, to live life hands on.
…praying for peace to calm his anxious heart.
….keeping a high structure routine and telling him what is going to happen next.
….gritting my teeth in the mornings, praying for his medicine to kick in so I can have my boy back. And while I’m waiting, I learn to speak simply, to love simply, to practice patience.
It means constant communication with his teacher and praying each year for God to give him a “good one” that gets it.
…banding together with other parents who understand.
…replacing selfishness with sacrifice, bitterness with freedom, perfection with grace.
I’ve found myself more in love with my children exactly the way they are.
Raising up children with special needs doesn’t mean life is over, it’s actually a chance to spin through life where miracles happen everyday and each reflects God’s grace and glory.
It has also taught me it’s okay to disappear for awhile as I find myself in him and re-emerge once the dust has settled from “Your child has.”
Being a mom to special needs kids allows me to re-define the definition of life, success, and gives me permission to be the brave mom I am.
You may not be in that place yet. The place where you can accept God telling you it’s going to be okay. And that’s okay. Just know you’ll get to that place and experience freedom you’ve never known.