This coming Sunday, May 14th, is mother's day, a holiday which stands as testament to the enduring love, support, and care which mothers everywhere offer freely to their children.
All mothers face hardships along the treacherous path of raising children, as one cannot know exactly how a child will turn out—their interests, their quirks, their impulses—and while this adds to the joy and beauty of the experience, it can also create unexpected pitfalls and bumpy roads.
And then you have special needs mothers—a subclass of moms whose motherhood is complicated by the fact that one or more of their children fall under the broad and nebulous umbrella of children who have special needs; this encompasses a huge variety of conditions and states of being, including but definitely not limited to autism, down syndrome, ADD and/or ADHD (attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder, respectively), tourette syndrome, and physical disabilities, just to name a few. These mothers have a unique path and perspective by necessity, because they must deal with the sometimes wonderful, sometimes disconcerting, ever-present knowledge that their child is fundamentally unlike the vast majority of children on one or more key axes.
So today, in honor of Mother's day, Blossomville interviewed several special needs mothers to see what they had to say about being a special needs mom. Let's take a look at what they said.
While being the parent of a special needs child, and just being a parent in general, can be a wonderful thing, it is also undeniable that there are a host of challenges associated with the task. Here are some challenges our Blossomville moms shared with us:
- The unknowns, not knowing what to expect. I find myself envious of those with Down Syndrome kids for example, with diagnoses not as rare as my son’s, so that at least there’s lots of information about what to expect and how best to intervene and help.
- The “typical” life hurts. I remember one time I was at a Gap store having to buy a gift for a friend’s newborn baby girl not too long after we were given the diagnosis and prognosis that my daughter would probably never be able to walk, I was looking at all those beautiful dresses and my eyes were flooded with tears.
- When friends “praise” me and say things like “an extraordinary mom”, “super strong”, “unconditional love”, etc. I don’t want to or need to hear those. I am still the same person, there are good things about me and bad things about me. I don’t need to be all-of-a-sudden glorified because I am a special needs mom.
- Feeling left behind. It’s wonderful to have a support group with other families with special needs children. We sincerely wish the best for all our children, but honestly when other kids do well but my son doesn’t, I feel left behind and scared.
- How I still wish that my other child could have a “typical” sibling…
By necessity, when one lives with a person with special needs, one tends to end up developing a unique perspective owing to being in a situation that's, well, unique. One especially memorable example of this which cropped up more than once in the interviews is the idea that pain and hardship can end up being a good thing in the long run, because it bestows and appreciation for things most take for granted. In particular, I found the words “where there's no pain, there's no compassion” notably memorable and meaningful.
We asked this question to Blossomville Moms: “It is said that having a special needs child is a clear invitation to enlightenment. Do you agree?” and here are some thoughts we received:
- Yes I agree, but it takes time to see that…although sometimes it still hurts when seeing other kids take piano, art, Taekwondo lessons, while the hardest working child that I know of in the entire universe is still trying his best to learn to put his shoes on by himself.
- I think I understand what it means, but I have to admit that more often than not I wish that I had not been invited.
- Sometimes all of a sudden I find myself to be this strange or even horrible person that I couldn’t even recognize myself full of negativity. I can barely look at myself in the mirror. But those are moments when there’s a voice deep inside me telling me you have to change. Those are moments when I really reflect on life and on myself. Thinking back, those are such precious and powerful moments. I felt I was truly with myself or brought myself home during those times.
- Where there’s no pain, there’s no compassion. I am a firm believer in that now. And to learn to become truly compassionate is the only way to happiness and I think that’s the gift our experiences and our children bring us.
- I remember when our interventionist told us very early on in this journey how excited another family was when their child took the first step at age 10, I remember thinking how could that that be happy? That’s too sad. When my daughter took the first step, that was truly the most joyous moment in life. We learned to be thankful for every little thing. We learned true happiness is from simple things, from love and compassion. It’s interesting how I didn’t really understand happiness when life was all “perfect” and no troubles.
- We’ve met so many wonderful people, therapists and other families, that we would have not met otherwise.
And finally, to cap off the mother's day interview, each participant was asked what their personal mother's day wish would be for themselves and other special needs mothers.
- I wish there’s an app that can help them manage all those appointments.
- I wish there are templates to create personalized books for their children (instead of just being told to make them).
- I wish there were 25 hours each day for special needs moms, so that they’d get an hour for themselves.
- A personal secretary to management appointments, paperwork and calls that they don’t want to take.
- A personal chauffeur to drive them and their kids from appointment to appointment.
- I wish they see results for the hard work they put in for their children.
- I wish a cure in this lifetime.
With those, we wish you a happy mother's day to our Blossomville moms. And secondly, hang in there. As an autistic adult myself, who was once a small autistic child, I can tell you that the love, support, and compassion my own mother showed me was invaluable for my own development, and it means the world to me that—even if she messed up occasionally (don't we all?)—she put in so much effort and love into raising me.
So we hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable day, and remember that your love, compassion, and tireless effort is never in vain.
Edited by Azalea