This post isn’t about me, per se. It’s a message for someone. I don’t know who the person is (or people are), but I believe God has pressed it upon my heart to put the following encouragement out there, not necessarily as someone who has been-there-done-that, but as someone who daily IS there DOING it. I’m talking about parenting a child with special needs—great or small, whatever those needs may be. Whoever you are, God wants you to know you are not alone. Not only am I in the trenches with you, but there are countless others out there who get it—and get you. Of course everyone’s situation is unique, however, those of us battling it out in the parenting trenches know your internal, physical and spiritual struggles.
If my admittedly failing memory serves me correct, parenting a child with special needs is not something I neither signed up nor signed on for when I inked my parenting contract with God. But then again, few people do. (There is a very special place in heaven for those whose hearts God has set to seek out and parent children who have special needs. Bless you.) As the parent of a child with developmental challenges, pipedreams are no longer in my wheelhouse. That’s not conjecture; it’s fact. I’m not seeking sympathy, I’m simply telling you my reality. I can’t see past today. My son consumes me from the moment his eyes flutter open at the crack of dawn until he finally drifts off to sleep at night. His days are fueled by a great deal of anxiety and nearly every second of my day is spent caring for or interacting with him in one way or another. And the few hours I’m afforded during the school day are spent at my office doing full-time work on a very part-time schedule.
One of the many things I’ve learned firsthand over the years is this: you cannot effectively parent a child without sacrificing yourself. Every family’s situation is unique, however, parenting a child with developmental and/or physical challenges greatly magnifies the sacrifice required of parents and caregivers.
I’m less than happy and more than a little embarrassed to admit that oftentimes I look at friends and acquaintances (and even my husband/business partner) through green eyes of envy. I had—and continue to have—so many dreams and aspirations I fear will never come to fruition. But I’m learning to have peace with this possibility. At times it’s been a tough pill to swallow, but our mighty Comforter is balm to my wounded ego. When I get a case of the feel sorries, He reminds of this: Jesus’ birth, life and death were foretold; His sole purpose was to be mankind’s Savior—our Redeemer. He came to earth to be The Sacrificial Lamb. Period. He didn’t juggle many roles in His short time on this earth. Nor did he try to find a way to mitigate His purpose. He had a singular objective. Jesus never questioned that. Never. Ever.
Now, I am absolutely, positively NOT comparing my sacrifice or anyone else’s for that matter, to the ultimate price Jesus paid for you and me. However, I firmly believe as mothers in general our lives must, to some degree or another, be a living sacrifice for our child(ren). My experience tells me this is especially true for adoptive parents and parents of children with special needs. Both bring so much to the parenting table. We simply cannot have it all. There are many folks who believe differently. There’s a host of people out there who either try to convince us we can have/do it all or guilt us into believing we fall short if we don’t aspire to be supermom. But as the mother of both a soon-to-be 32 year old and a five year old on the autism spectrum, I can tell you it’s an unreasonable goal and trying to do so can be a real spirit breaker. In this instance I have most definitely been-there-done-that.
So, my dear friend—whoever you are, the only counsel I can offer is take it easy on yourself. Please, please, please give yourself a break, and while you’re at it, a pat on the back. You deserve it. I guarantee it.