Parenting is filled with more unknown variables than you can count. Some joyful, some shocking and some that cause you to reevaluate all you thought you knew. When a parent finds out that their child is considered special needs, there is a myriad of emotions that accompany that news. Today we share a perspective from the Nashville Moms Blog on the gift of special needs.
Lessons in Parenting : The Gift Of Special Needs
The first few years of parenthood felt like an emotional roller coaster. Everything about being a new mom was both thrilling and terrifying at once. My expectations and emotions rose and fell quickly depending on how much my son ate, slept, or smiled at me that day. I anticipated a few twists, turns, and dips taking us from infant to toddlerhood. But we came to realize that our son’s abilities were not typical. He has special needs. Our car jumped the track. We no longer even rode on the same ride as other parents.
We are parenting a child with invisible special needs.
Both my husband and I have been called “Type-A Overachievers.” Our pre-marital counselor labeled us existential control-freaks. Perhaps it’s only fitting that our four year old is the one teaching us to slow down and to focus on character more than accomplishments. In a world that’s constantly telling me otherwise, I need that reminder—just as often as he gives it.
We are not raising a child in pursuit of the typical American Dream: a future based on success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. That definition could also be summarized as achievement based on self-sufficiency. Instead? In his own unique way, my son teaches us the necessity and beauty of need.
My son is not my report card.
As my son grew well beyond his peers in height and size, he remained behind in language and development. This combination is tailor-made for unsolicited commentary on his behavior—and my parenting. A continual chorus of unrealistic expectations descend on my son—and myself. It was painfully sobering to realize just how much I wanted approval—or even understanding—for my parenting choices.
The real freedom is from my own hidden agenda of success.
Today, I want him to go to sleep probably more than I want him to go to college. Because a good night’s sleep is what we all need, right now. Not that I don’t also have long-term dreams for him—but every day I am trying to hold my desires for him a little more loosely—while holding him a little more closely. And that feels so wonderfully different from the parenting expectations that once held me.
Read the rest of Tiffany’s beautifully honest post on Nashville Moms Blog.
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