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I wasn’t a “special mom”

21 Nov

People love to say “God gives special children to special people”.  It’s almost a requirement that those words fall out of your mouth as soon as someone says “My child has special needs.”

“OH!  You must be special too!”

I wasn’t special.

No, really, I wasn’t a special mom when I had Maura.  There wasn’t anything about me that ever even imagined life with a special needs child.  I never had any good intentions of having kids, then adopting a child with a syndrome or a need.  I never had any leanings towards the medical profession.  I entertained the idea of being a teacher for one semester – until I said to myself “OMG, I don’t want to teach! What am I thinking?”

When Maura was born, I had three other children.  Collin had just turned 7, Sean turned 5 two weeks before Maura’s birth, and Miriam was in a very precocious stage of 2 1/2.  I was a good mom – I think.  I was definitely creative.  But I was also overwhelmed and busy and disorganized and doing my best not to drown and take everyone with me.  Or as I called it back then, normal life.  Normal juggling of sippy cups and soccer practices and kindergarten snacks and laundry.

I had no clue I was supposed to be a special parent.  I was too busy trying to be a decent parent for that thought to enter my head.

And for the first fifteen months of Maura’s life, I was still that normal parent trying not to give her kids fodder for a future therapist, succeeding one day, failing the next, doing my best not to leave the house with baby poop on me.  All while enjoying those four little crazy people who I brought into the world.

I wasn’t a special person, not to the rest of the world.  Maybe to the kids and my husband, but to the world, I was just another mom.

Even after we started down the road to discovering there was more to Maura, I didn’t get the title of “Special Mom” – because Maura didn’t get the title of “Special Needs” for so long.  I wasn’t out being the warrior mom, kicking in doors and taking no prisoners until Maura got all she deserved in therapy.  No, I nodded and smiled my way through all the meetings through the sucky early Monday morning therapy spot that I knew wasn’t a good fit for my non-morning child, because that’s the time they could give us.  I didn’t fight, I didn’t argue, I didn’t question.  I didn’t know better – nor did anyone else.  When you’re working under the assumption of “She might catch up” coupled with no label, you don’t get a lot of convincing arguments as to why your child needs more.

Time went on, and things became clearer, and I learned how to navigate the world of developmental delays.  But I still didn’t feel “special” – Maura still wasn’t called “special”.  No one wanted to admit it to us until our neurologist answered our “Do you think she has something?” question with a blunt “Oh yes, she definitely has something!”

Finally, when Maura was three, I was given the permission to consider our situation “special”.

Even then, I had outsiders telling us that our situation wasn’t as special as their own, or ones they knew about.

I wonder what they think now?

“God doesn’t give you  more than you can handle!”

Well, it sure felt like it.  I spent all those critical early years of Maura’s life flailing about, being told I was over-reacting, being told there were no answers.  It was hard to listen to the voices telling me that I was doing well because there were so many negative voices around me.  When Maura had her first seizure, people started to take notice of our situation.  The naysayers stopped trying to deny the fact that our situation was, indeed, special.  I was finally able to say “My daughter has special needs.” and not feel like a fraud.  Somewhere between the time Maura was three, and when she was six, I went from trying to keep my head above water to learning how to kick ass and take names while doing it.

I didn’t start off as a special mom.  I had to earn that cape.

I still don’t think I’m that special of a mom sometimes.  I’m still disorganized and overwhelmed at times.  I will look back on Maura’s early years and with that bitch Hindsight, see all that I could have done better. It is still a bit jarring at times when I actually stop and think “I have a child with special needs.” It’s always a surprise when I try to figure out just how I ended up here, in this life, in this situation.

No, God didn’t give Maura to a special mom.  But I am glad God gave me Maura.  Maura carved me into that special mom.  The process hasn’t always been smooth, and the process has been painful at times. But these days, I can say that yes, I am a special mom, and I earned that title.  I earn that title every day.

 

she can't really read yet...but she loves books just the same.

 

 

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5 Responses to “I wasn’t a “special mom””

  1. franhunne4u November 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    To be honest:
    ” I will look back on Maura’s early years and with that bitch Hindsight, see all that I could have done better.” THIS – is something EVERY parent faces – what do I say, parent … EVERYBODY in hindsight sees times where she/he could have done better! Really!

    But of course that does take nothing away from your speciality – and how hard you earned the title of being a mom, let alone the mom of a child with special needs. You are a wonderful mom to all of your children. You are a special person, Phoebe, in the very best of meanings. Your other three learn(ed) something about responsibility, about empathy, about handling very special situations – and they learn that from you. And that makes you a very special mom.

  2. Darcy Pennington Arnold November 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Phoebe, I am always so thankful when I receive your post. I brighten up and say thank you for the fact we had a diagnosis immediately at birth. It wasn’t something I wanted for my granddaughter, but it made our search easy to find support groups. Though I find we still have to fight daily for the best she can receive.

    You may not think you are a “special” mom, but you are so wrong. You fought the fight when no one else believed. You give those who have a diagnosis know it’s okay to be overwhelmed. And you give me the ability to laugh at myself. A very “special” friend I have never met and want to so badly!! Hugs!

  3. Oneinamillion November 21, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean. That phrase gets bandied about a lot. I often think that while there may be a few “special moms” floating about, most moms of children with special needs feel like you do. They they became special, or at least became the mom they needed to be, because of their child. They weren’t born that way. You weren’t born knowing how to cope with these situations, you cope because you have to.

  4. thedreamermom November 22, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    I salute parents of special needs children..I know how it is. I have a three year-old daughter who has epilepsy.

  5. Robin November 22, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    What a great post. Gets me thinking a bit. About parenting. We do what we do because we love our kids, no questions asked. I’m not special either but I have to deal with things others don’t, and problem solve…problem solve…oh my, I feel like that’s my whole life! And as irked as I am that everything in life these days has a problem to solve and my head hurts from it, I can’t deny I am a much better, more thoughtful, more empathetic person because of it. And that’s not so bad I suppose! Yes, we can thank our challenging but loving little special kids for those lessons learned.

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