I was perusing the numerous racks of mother’s day cards recently. As is characteristic of me, my experience jettisoned into a silent analytical observation. I made mental notes pertaining to the responsibility afforded to a mother. It is a 24-7 job. Mothers must be on call to jump to attention for a whimpering baby with a wet diaper or hunger pangs. Mothers must be on constant alert for toddlers unrolling a roll of toilet paper that he is busily spreading from room to room with the roll unraveling behind him as he gleefully runs.
We are a tough breed who gets attacked with a projectile shot of vomit that lands on our bodies with the force of a speeding bullet. We wipe runny noses with an almost unlimited amount of tissue that seems to be pulled from thin air. We spend years of sleep deprivation from waking at all hours of the night to nurse sick children back to health. We spend the better part of our child’s teen years pacing the floor when our new drivers are past curfew , conjuring all the terrible things that might have happened to them within the confines of our mind.
Through challenges, trials, tribulations, childhood illness, mothers shrug it off and unquestionably support their children day after day. We never notice the first year of life when you smell like spit up, or that poopy diaper that leaked on your lap. If the child is out of baby food etc. we have all made a trip to the store smelling like the latter because our worries about looking presentable are blinded by the needs of our child.
There you have it. All mothers are special, but special needs moms are different. They are humbled, challenged, tough, protective, and cheerleaders for their children beyond the call of duty. They deal with doctors, teachers, therapists, and more who tell them their child will never meet a certain milestone. Milestones that traditional parents take for granted.
A word of caution, never say your child won’t, can’t, never will, or any other phrase which reeks of pessimistic projections for their child. Like a cat, special needs mothers have hidden claws behind their fingernails that will protrude when they are in attack mode resultant from any threat, or negativity aimed towards their child or the child’s mom.
Special needs parents will expect nothing but the best of care for their children. They are not afraid to vocalize and take action until their child gets just that. While other parents seek out babysitters for a weekly date night, many special needs parents silently stay home to care for their child’s demanding needs. It is much more difficult to get sitters for special needs children, and medical, and therapy issues can leave parents financially strapped. While other parents complain that their child did not make captain of the soccer team, these parents merely want their child to make the team and socialize with peers.
While parents worry about their child being popular, special needs parents worry about their child having friends at all. We shuffle our children to numerous therapy appointments, social groups, pediatricians, tutors, and specialists, while managing jobs, homes, and the stares from people in public.
Through it all we realize that we can climb mountains, make it to the summit and down again as we develop determination and strength to fight for our young like nothing else.
Now, back to my story about visiting the card shop. None of those cards appeared to be directed at special needs parents so I am providing my version that I would design for all of you out there.
To A Special Needs Mom (A Hallmark moment)
Mommies, you always look beyond my disability and see my talents
To you I am a diamond in the rough black on the exterior but shiny underneath
As my daily cheerleader you slowly buff me off to reach the shiny diamond that I am inside
Without you in my corner I would never have made it as far as I have
We have proved doctors and therapists prognosis wrong repeatedly
With you in my corner we will keep proving them wrong
Thanks for believing in me and helping me when others give up
Thanks for showing your love for me every day
Most of all, thanks for being my mommy
Happy Mothers Day Mommy from your special needs child to my very SPECIAL mommy
And from me – I wish all fellow Moms a happy Mothers Day
Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE