Friday, March 28, 2014

The 'Special Needs' Parent

I've been a high school teacher...  I've taught English, psychology, creative writing, and everything in between. I've been a special needs teacher.... I've taught precious children who had Autism, Downs Syndrome, and Aspergers... children who were verbal, non-verbal, and everything in between. Those babies taught me so much... more than I could ever have hoped to learn in one lifetime of lessons.

But in the past 2 years, I've learned one of the biggest lessons of my life;

I've spent much of my life working with and loving children who had 'special needs'... children whom the world refers to as 'special needs children'...

And that, my friends, is a huge mistake.

In my short 2 years of parenting a child with 'special needs', I have learned one of the biggest lessons of my life...

There is, in fact, no such thing as a 'special needs child'.

You see, 'special needs' does not refer to the child; in reality, 'special needs' refers to the child's parents.... to us....

to me. 

I went to bed last night feeling disappointed in myself... Defeated. It's so hard not to ask myself sometimes if God made a mistake by trusting me with this gift... This precious, 'special', child of his...

I'm not patient enough... I don't 'know' enough... I haven't been a parent 'long enough' to be what this amazing little boy needs in a Mama!

Hunter 'usually' sleeps until 7 or later, but when he woke up with his 'sad cry' this morning at 5, I knew something was 'off'... 

And I thought it was him.

I brought him into bed with me and as soon as we laid down, he snuggled in with his warm cheek against mine, and slept (and snored) soundly (loudly) until 7:30.

That's heaven, my friends.

Me? I didn't sleep a wink.

Sometime around 6am, with that little squishy cheek against mine, I realized something...

He wasn't 'off'... I was.

I spend so much time dwelling on whether or not I'm good enough for him... whether or not God made some huge mistake in trusting me with him...

that I've missed the true purpose of God's plan;

God did not 'gift' this child with me because I am good enough or knowledgeable enough.... because I'm not....

 this Mama is as 'special needs' as they come. 

My Jesus knew that the only way I could make it through this life.... the only way I could fulfill the purpose HE has for my life.... was if I had this particular, and amazingly 'special', warm cheek against mine at those moments when I am the most 'special needs'.

Hunter will be fine... He IS MORE than fine... He's a miracle! Don't get me wrong... He works his (you know what) off every day to be who he is and do what he does... but there is nothing that I can do to change the already-perfect plan for his life by being 'good enough' or 'smart enough'.

But me? I'm still learning... I'm catching up...

And even though I might be a slow learner, and even though I sometimes let what's 'typical' blind my faith and trust in the God who not only gave my children life, but gave them to ME... 

My God also knows when I just need a sweet, warm, squishy cheek against mine.

 And sometimes, I need the reminder that what makes ME 'special' is what makes me what's best right now for the babies He's given to me.

And if that's all I learn for a lifetime of lessons? 

That's enough. 

Tonight? I'm going to bed content... even though my parenting day wasn't perfect. 

And I'm hoping with all my heart that one of my babies wakes up at 5am, knowing that his or her Mama needs their warm, squishy cheek against hers because that's the best way a 'special needs' mama can possibly start her day!

~ Here's to wishing that your sleep is filled with warm, squishy cheeks... and the reminder of what makes you 'special needs' in this life that God has perfectly chosen for you.


  1. I So Needed This. Thank You So Much For Always Speaking Your Mind Because Most Of The Time What You Say Is What I Need/Meant To Say.

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  3. How poignant! You sound like an incredible mom!!!


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