Parenting | Life Lessons in Small Things
Life taught us a lesson in the quiet moments along the way.
Most parents celebrate their baby’s first smile, their first steps, and all the other milestones that go along with watching their baby navigate the path to reluctant independence. And when the moment has passed they occasionally smile at their baby’s exuberance and bumps on the path of life.
It didn’t happen quite that way for us. No, for our family, the parenting journey began over 12 years ago, after our oldest was born, with a pronouncement from a nurse in the delivery room that “something is wrong with his eyes. Get the specialist on call.”
At a time when other parents were holding their arms out in the “gimme pose” perfected by parents everywhere, we were trying to get our sleepy baby to open his eyes wide enough so we could see the white eyes that had so disturbed the nursing staff (honestly, it looked freaky and cool at the same time).
I’m not going to bore you with all the details about why my kids are different, why they have had to fight so much harder to meet the same milestones other kids reach months, sometimes years, ahead of them.
That’s not what this is about. Instead, I invite you along for a bit of reality, and a bit of the blessing, that comes from having kids with special needs.
It comes down to appreciation.
While your kid met all the milestones, or maybe when they worried you because they were a little late meeting one, I struggled with therapies and heartfelt prayers and pleas for my kid to “just be okay.”
When your kids smiled for the first time, I was watching to see if my kid would ever notice that “I was right there.” Blind babies are sometimes so busy taking in a world they can’t see that they don’t give you the same smiles as their little peers.
When your kids rolled over, crawled, and walked, or when you watched your child advance along that path of development, I was still back watching and waiting for that first smile. And when that first smile came (it was a beautiful thing to behold!), I was anxiously trying to urge my little guy to roll.
The list goes on, but that’s not quite what this is about either.
You see, there’s a certain level of appreciation you cultivate as a special needs parent. As other parents are busy looking at the development charts to see what their kids are going to do next, you learn to stop and truly appreciate what your kid is doing now.
Today, I celebrated the fact that one of my little guys went three days without a seizure, that he played with a ball in the backyard and even tossed it over the fence with an impish grin.
I appreciated that–for one afternoon, for one hour, in this moment–my child was happy. And I appreciated his infectious giggles as much as I loved that grin on his face.
The simple, and hard, truth…
When your kid doesn’t do things the same way other kids do, when it takes them years to make the same advancements others made in weeks and months, when you are still waiting to hear your first clear word (and your kid is seven), you learn to appreciate the little things for the blessings that they are.
A smile? A glimpse into my guy’s soul.
A giggle? Proof that my guy is in love with the world around him.
Endless questions? Hopefully in the future for my youngest, but something to laugh about in my oldest, who we feared would never talk.
These seemingly small things have grown in significance and importance because we had to fight so much harder to witness them, to embrace them.
It doesn’t matter if you have a special needs child.
Today, I urge you to look at your child in a new light. Take one minute and think about the smallest of things your child has done.
That smile, or giggle, or the way they brush their hair behind their ear? Those are all an opportunity to appreciate the small but mighty miracles of life as well.
Being a special needs parent has taught me that these are the things worth cherishing in life.
What’s something seemingly innocuous that you appreciate about your child?
Comment and share, and remember–parenting isn’t always about the big achievements in life, instead parenting is sometimes witnessed in the tiny and almost-insignificant actions your child does every moment of every day.
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