Being a special needs parent is hard. Being a parent who has a disability is hard. Being both is REALLY hard. I often write about the hard because it is a sort of therapy, and gives people a peek into what we deal with on a daily basis. But there is also a bright side. And this bright side is brighter than the brightest star. That side needs to be shared too.
My daughter is developmentally way younger than her actual age. She is the most agreeable person I know. She has a sweet happy go lucky attitude that I envy on a daily basis. It is pretty much impossible to be in a bad mood around my girl. She LOVES to help. Any project or chore that needs to be done, she will happily agree.
There were no “ugly teenage years” for us. She never went through the phase where, “her parents know nothing, and never let her do anything”, that many kids go through. She has never wanted to sleep in late or spend hours on the phone. She will not be driving, so there is no worry about her being out in the middle of the night and having an accident. She doesn’t date so I don’t have to worry about her heart being broken, or experimenting with alcohol or drugs. Most of the hard parts of the teen years are things that don’t apply.
My son has ADHD. For us that means he needs more reminders, and more help than some others his age. He allows me to help him and we work together so well to ensure his success. His emotional age is also a bit less than others his age. I don’t know other 14 year old boys, but I love, love, love that he still likes to snuggle and do things with his mom. I will watch superhero movies and Minecraft videos all day long if it means I get to spend time with my boy. He is also extremely smart, creative, and clever. He is unapologetic about being himself. He is truly one of the coolest people I know.
I have chronic back pain. I had many back surgeries as a child, and a few as an adult to. Some were extremely successful, done by the best spine surgeon in the state of Minnesota – maybe the country. The most recent ones were not as successful as we had hoped. This means some days, if the weather is bad, or if I over exerted the day before I am stuck in bed. I’m not going to lie, it is hard. I feel like my children suffer because I can not work, and sometimes can’t even do household chores. But although the situation is less than ideal, it has taught my children many lessons they may not have learned otherwise. They have learned empathy. They have learned to be selfless and to think of others. There are no self centered teens in our house. They know that mom hurts, and will often step in without being asked to help around the house and just hang out with me in the bedroom to watch a show or movie. I am very blessed indeed to help raise these selfless loving humans.
Both of my kids have special needs that make their lives different from their peers, and being different is hard. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the hard, to be consumed by it. But it’s not ALL hard. Both of my kids have friends. Both of my kids get to do fun things and have amazing experiences. And me? I get a son who wants to spend time with me and snuggle just a few years longer than is probably average, and a daughter who thinks I’m the best and loves to go everywhere with me and help with whatever I’m doing indefinitely. And that is quite a bright side indeed.