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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.

PrimeParentsClub Special NeedsToday, 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.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]


[author_info]About the Author

Katrina (“Kat”) is the Prime Parents’ Club regular Special Needs Contributor. She is passionate about many things in life, chief among them are her little gang of Moody guys–all who share the same diagnosis of a very rare disorder called Rieger Syndrome and are all autistic  She enjoys writing, researching, editing, and occasionally, getting sleep. You can always find her in her home away from home, Kat’s Cafe, but she loves to make friends away from the Cafe. [/author_info][/author]


  1. Chris

    June 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Great post, Katrina. Came across this through a shared link on Twitter. My special little guy has changed my life in profound ways. It’s not easy, but nothing worth anything ever is. :)

  2. Mamabrown78

    June 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm


    As a mother of one special needs child, and one “normal child” I have to say thank you. As tears roll down my face after reading your post I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for understanding, and reminding me that I’m not alone.

    I know that it is hard to think about it this way sometimes, but I think that parents with special needs children are luckier, we truly enjoy, celebrate & experience the milestones that our children reach.

    Mama Brown

    • Katrina Moody

      June 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      *hugs* Mama Brown. The wonderful thing about the internet, when you are a special needs parent, is that you don’t have to be alone.

      I think this is one of those things that we grow into, as special needs parents, you know? Over time, you stop considering the shock of the situation or the diagnosis or the treatment, and you start to look at the small things worth appreciating.

      As a result you become so much more aware of how important each of those little milestones truly are.

      *hugs* again, ’cause I hate making anyone cry. But I’m so glad you took a moment to read!


  3. Marybeth Levine

    June 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    WOW. Outstanding post. Thank you for sharing!

    • Katrina Moody

      June 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      Thank you so much for the very kind comments! Sharing means growing, individually and in advocating for the awesome community I’m a part of. It’s called Parenting, before the ‘special needs’ – you know?

      Thanks again!

  4. Jacqueline Wilson

    June 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I’ve been contemplating what kind of comment to leave on this post. It’s such a powerful piece that nothing that I could add would measure up. However, I wanted you to know how much it touched me and how much I’ve been thinking about these “lessons” and your love and your courage. It’s an amazing piece that shows what kind of person you really are. Thank you for sharing. You are a blessing to your family.

    • Katrina Moody

      June 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      Aw *hugs* Thank you for that.

      The hardest part about being a special needs parent is that by its very definition it is isolating, limiting. Being able to write, to reach out to those who aren’t familiar with our world, is a large part of what advocacy is all about.

      I am touched and humbled by yours and other responses (both here and privately) that let me know that I was able to touch another soul with our story.

      Thank you, also, for the opportunity to share, and to grow, with an amazing community of parents. i feel truly welcomed and loved here on PPC!

  5. Katrina Moody

    June 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks Brenda and glad to see you visit the post!

  6. Brenda Wright

    June 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    All so true, it is a good lesson, keep it up

  7. Katrina Moody

    June 7, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Thank you Tracy!

  8. Tracy @ Hall of Fame Moms

    June 7, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Great lessons for us all. Thanks, Kat ;)

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