Becoming a parent is not an easy undertaking. Nothing can prepare anyone for the overwhelming experience of nurturing another life and being a special needs parent is somewhat a level beyond that. I am not saying that the amount of love and care is different, that would be unjust and impolite. But sometimes we, special needs parents, have to go that extra mile, give that additional push and exert more effort in order to help our little angels.
When you become a parent for the first time the responsibility of nourishing a new life is scary. The fear of not being able to provide proper guidance would always be there, haunting you. And for some who received a diagnosis that changes the playing field the task is quite daunting especially when you don’t know what you’re doing or understand what you’re supposed to do. Knowing and understanding that you are your child’s lifeline, his/her only link to the world is terrifying.
The struggle is real. It’s not glamorous, stylish or fashionable. Honestly, most of the time, it’s chaotic. Everything is a battle; scheduling doctor appointments, acquiring various assessments, undergoing therapies and searching for breakthroughs. Even simple tasks such as feeding, bathing and toileting feels like fighting a crusade sometimes. It’s exhausting, physically and emotionally draining. Most of the time it’s challenging to keep a steady pace and difficult to find equilibrium. And there are times when you would waver and second-guess yourself. Am I doing enough? Have I done enough? You’d feel like nothing is working and you’re wasting precious time running around in circles. But amidst the turmoil and confusion I know, for a fact, that none of us would have it any other way. This is life for us, this is truth and we own it. We waver but we never back down. We plant our feet on the ground, take the bull by the horns and say, ‘Bring it!’
In some ways we’re like modern day superheroes. But even superheroes need allies. Take for example the Avengers, the Justice League or the X-Men. Oh sure, each character could survive alone and fight their own battles but united you get a team of extraordinary individuals working towards a common goal and accomplishes more by working together.
It’s easy to listen to someone and sympathize but to empathize or say you understand and to actually relate to the individual’s story is an entirely different matter. A bond formed through shared experience is a special type of camaraderie that is not easy to obtain. Simple conversations have deeper meanings, small talks have greater relevance and often we find the answers we’re looking for just by listening or observing someone who’s going through the same situation.
I am socially awkward. I tense up around strangers and I’m often mistaken for a snob. It takes me some time to get comfortable with people and I’m not good with casual or small talk. But when I converse with other parents or mums like me who understands the struggle, I cannot help but get involved. With them, talking doesn’t seem like a chore and connecting or bonding doesn’t feel as intimidating. I cannot help but be in awe and be inspired by what they’ve achieved and what they’re accomplishing every single day. When I hear about the battles they’ve fought, won and loss, I cannot help but celebrate their triumphs and sympathize with their losses.
But we don’t really lose, do we? We don’t fail because failure is nonexistent in our worlds. Yes, there are moments when we would breakdown. It cannot be helped, we’re human after all, but we’ve learned to condition ourselves. We adapted. We evolved with each test and we became stronger. Tougher. We learned when and how to pick up the pieces. We know how to regroup and when to fight again. This form of persistence, determination and resolve is unique to special needs parents. It’s what makes us invulnerable and impervious to failure because regardless of the situation, even if the odds are severely against us, we just keep on trying. We never stop.
As I’ve stated I’m not good with words. I’m often at a loss, searching for the proper way to express myself, and most times the words get mixed and jumbled in my head and I end up completely losing my point. But what I really want to say is…
I salute you.
You are an inspiration.
You’ve restored my faith.
Please continue to empower others.
I believe in you…