Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Special Needs Families

More than once Brian has mentioned that families with special needs kids seem to just have something about them that shines. It's almost that they know a secret about life that others don't...a good secret, that is, one that gives them a twinkle in their eye. When Brian says this, I don't think it's him trying to make himself feel better about what happened to Sadie and the fact that our life is forever changed, it's more like he's excited to be part of this club and learn their secret. It almost feels like he's excited for this journey of life as a family with a special needs kid because he can then be the one who shines.

So I started thinking about families I know (have known) who have children with extra challenges. And, although I can think of unhappy times or serious struggles these families have gone through, some even ending in divorce, it's their optimism and love for each other that stands out most in my mind. I don't think it's something these families consciously think about doing, I'm not even sure they see the twinkle when they look in the mirror. I think it's a necessity, sometimes when things seem bleak, you have to force yourself to smile through it, to find the bright side. Before you know it you've created a habit...a good habit. These families have been refined in the fire and come out as shiny gold.

I've always looked at the parents of special needs children and admired them for their optimism. To me it would just be so sad all the time, so hard all the time, so much work all the time that I could never imagine enjoying it. But now it's MY CHILD. It's the baby that I carried in my tummy for 10 months. It's my daughter whose eyes look at my face like I am the greatest most interesting thing she's ever seen. And I DO enjoy it. I enjoy when I see those rare smiles, I enjoy seeing her roll over, I enjoy bath time, and nap time (boy do I enjoy nap time!), and I even enjoy sitting and bouncing that bouncy seat endlessly for hours. I get excited for little things, like hands not being clenched in fists, or looking at a rattly toy when I shake it outside her vision...things other parents may overlook in the midst of larger developmental milestones. But these are our milestones, and I will cherish them and be excited about them, and work toward that habit of optimism so that one day I will be in the habit of smiling when people ask me about my child. And just maybe, eventually someone will catch that twinkle in my eye and wonder what I'm keeping secret.


  1. There's a really great book you might enjoy called "Expecting Adam" by Martha Beck (look, fate!) She has a boy with Down's Syndrome and it's mostly about her pregnancy, but it's also about the joy and special points of view that he brings to the family. It's a book I love and recommend to everybody, but it also reminds me a bit of what you're talking about here.

  2. This is my favorite blog yet. Because of Sadie (and you and Brian) I have a new appreciation for my children. I don't know if I've ever told you this, but you are really an inspiration to me. Watching you be such an amazing mom to Sadie makes me want to be a better parent. I love you.