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.