Whether you are finding this post on Thanksgiving 2013 or sometime thereafter isn’t important. I’m writing what’s in my heart this Thanksgiving season, but these are feelings, thoughts and gratitude that I want to be reminded of year round. I am still grasping and grappling with all that comes with being a special needs mom. By that same account, I think most parents go through “sticker shock” when they bring home that precious little bundle of joy.
As time goes on, things get a little bit easier, I think. Ask me in about 18 years and I might be able to answer that with certainty. But this is what I know for sure today. My life is different and was set on a different path when I became a special needs mom. I’m grateful for it. Not because I want my daughter to have Angelman Syndrome. But, for what I see in her and what I am discovering in me that would never be so if not for her. She helps me to be a better mom and a better person. My gratitude out-loud speaks like this:
When we thought I couldn’t get pregnant, I felt it was surely because the Lord knew I lacked patience. I am still not as patient as I would like, but I am more patient and quick to understand that sometimes no matter what, I just have to slow down for people, things and circumstances. And waiting is okay.
“Firsts” have taken on special meaning for me. I’ve cried at almost every first for both of my girls. I’m happy for every step that Juliana takes because she works so hard at it. When I think of so many people who give up, I wish they could just see her put her all into taking a step. It puts a lot of things in perspective.
Screaming doesn’t mean that all is lost. And I am happy that I have found the wisdom in myself to recover from a big meltdown—mine or Juliana’s. Instead, I can put on a smile and realize that whatever is happening is just a snapshot of a moment.
Juliana has managed to learn the word mama. And while the experts say this might simply be babbling, I know different and know that there is a part of her that knows exactly what she’s saying. Of all the words she could have chosen to master, she chose that one. And since she’s learned it, not a day has gone by that she hasn’t spoken it and I know for sure she’s talking about me.
Smiles from Juliana warm my heart and those around me; it’s what she’s known for. While she may not be able to verbally greet a stranger, I have seen her make many a day in the grocery store or a line at the Post Office. I feel proud that my little girl lifts the spirits of a brokenhearted person. And she does it all with a single smile. Wow!