Today just happens to be a very IMPORTANT day, but sadly a very difficult one to many mothers as well. Those mommies who do not get to hear their special child say, "I love you," or get an extra special hand-made card painted with their favorite lip gloss and covered in glitter; or even harder, those who do not even get to hold their angel child today as they celebrate the day parted by the heavens and long to just be able to breathe them in one more time... those are the mommies that find today bittersweet. My thoughts are with those mommies. Though I also get the lip-glossed & glittered card, I'm one of the first mentioned mommies... one day I'll likely find myself as one of the latter mommies.
I find today even more so bittersweet than some... Some mommies have one child, a child with special needs that has limited abilities, limited mobility, but is not shy on showing their love and that makes today just like every other day... no less important than the last, which is more so good than bad. Some mommies have healthy, "typically" developing children that are capable of making today a surprise for their ever-loving mother... while possibly taking for granted that today has come & they can share it with their children. I'm stuck in the middle with both, two children who are upstairs as I type planning a surprise in one of their bedrooms, loudly "whispering" which colors to use and when to surprise me in bed (the surprise will be on them when they only find their dad)... and one who is fast asleep in his crib, breathing peacefully in his dreamland, while completely oblivious to the importance of the day. I know he will awake soon and give me the most joyous smile when he sees my face, today will be just like another day.
From the blog Unhandicapping the Disabled Life last year on this day:
Mother’s Day, I always figured, aught to be a celebration of what being a mommy should be about, every day….the love we have for our children, and the love they have for us. The truly sad thing is that while in special needs families both parents and children need to feel the value of that priceless affection all the more, sometimes it proves all too difficult to call to the forefront. Mother’s Day seems to rub salt into those battle wounds, because of a tendency to think of the holiday as not so much being about acknowledging and celebrating what mothers do, but about paying tribute to notions of what mothers are due. And, some feel, what validation are all a mothers efforts due, if not a certain kind of child?! — A certain, societally-determined-as-ideal kind of child….which, in families with special needs children, the child, by societal standards, inherently is not.
Breaking out of that dangerous mold means dodging some sharp edges of the shards then readily scattered underfoot. First off, there are all the adds — diamonds are popular this year, barely beating out luxury spa weekends, but seeing surprising competition from excruciatingly overpriced flowers and desserts — which strive to convince us that our self-worth as mother’s has a monetary value, generally in the denomination of plastic. Not a great many special needs families can afford a few of the seven deadly sins just because they are pervasively encouraged/advertised, however. That would make it easy to turn from consumerism to sentimentality, but of course, nothing comes easy in special needs families, does it?
For every woman showing off the high-priced prize she was awarded this year out of their husband’s wallet, there are ten others bragging about the priceless gestures handed over with crooked smiles by their children’s little hands. Daycares, schools and clubs have probably spent the week having the kids making guided projects, to bring home. Inspired husbands might have plotted elaborate schemes involving taking a son or daughter to the store, giving them a certain amount of money, and having them pick out a present for mommy….or bravely having them carry the tray of breakfast-in-bed that they “helped” prepare. But what if the only artwork your child is capable of yet, involves things their fingers were never supposed to get into, and a frenzied clean-up job with a lot of sanitizer? What if they can’t grasp the concept of picking things out thatother people would want — assuming taking them to the store isn’t more likely to be a suicide mission than a covert operation, anyway? What if the kitchen still needs to be baby-gated, and they can’t carry things without dropping or flinging them? What if your child can’t say, “Happy Mother’s Day!”….and if they can, you could tell that the words are meaningless to them? What if, for whatever reason relating to your child’s special needs, all those Hallmark moments feel as unattainable as this year’s “Show Mom You Care” big-ticket item?
My advice is to let all that go, along with the guilty debate over whether you should wish for the day off from how the days of mommying tend to go, or an idealized day of mommying such as you ordinarily don’t even attempt. Just let it go. Mothering isn’t really about what, and when, and with what you do things, and whether or not they are what anyone else thinks should work. Mothering is about how we do things, in our efforts to make things work always that little bit better.
I kind of feel ok with where my journey in mommyhood has brought me. It took me a long while to get here, but I no longer feel like I'm juggling the life that was expected and the life that I have unexpectedly fallen in to... In fact, this journey has certainly brought me to a place much higher than ever anticipated and in touch with some of the most inspiring, wonderful, amazing mommies on the planet! Thank you to those mommies, from another mommy, for helping me find this place.
Last year I shared the Top 20 Reasons why Moms of Kids with Special Needs Rock . This year, in addition to those 20 reasons I'm thrilled to share 20 more from fellow mommy-blogger at Love That Max :
2 0 MORE REASONS MOMS OF KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS ROCK
1. Because we are geniuses at talking our way into whatever it is that will make our children's lives easier—at restaurants, amusement parks, school, wherever.
2. Because we help people see the amazing kid behind the special needs. Put that pity away, please.
3. Because we have learned the language of disability and medical conditions, so much so that sometimes people ask if we ourselves are medical professionals. Too bad we have nobody to bill.
4. Because we are so over "typical."
5. Because we work through those not-doing-enough-for-my-child guilt trips...and move right along to feeling guilty about something else. Next!
6. Because we have endless determination, dedication and energy.*
(*This motherhood brought to you by caffeine.)
7. Because we have cried more tears than we ever thought humanly possible, but never let our kids see the sadness.
8. Because we still have a healthy sense of humor. And no cellulite! Or we do have some but we have no time to care!
9. Because we know that the timeline for when our kids do stuff doesn't matter. Even when our hope is running low, they somehow surprise us.
10. Because we always put ourselves last, although we know that mani-pedis are our God-given right.
11. Because we do not let our kids' habit of banging their knees rhythmically under the table or their obsession with all things purple or whatever quirk drive us crazy...usually.
12. Because we have extreme endurance—we're talking Ironwoman endurance—when it comes to dealing with the insurance company. Press 3 if you'd like to tell off a representative!
13. Because we listen to other mothers complain about the small hardships of their lives and we don't say "You think you've got it hard, sister?!" We just think it.
14. Because we keep our composure amidst all the frolicking tots at the playground, birthday parties and playdates, no matter how painful it may be.
15. Because we also keep our composure when people stare. OK, maybe we don't. HEL-LO, DIDN'T YOUR MOTHER TELL YOU THAT IT'S RUDE TO STARE?
16. Because when our children accidentally roll over our feet with their walkers or poke us in the eye when they are flailing their arms or almost knock out one of our kidneys, we smile through our pain and we do not sue them.
17. Because we spend countless hours filling out forms and doing paperwork. Where's the app for that?
18. Because just when we think our heart can't take any more, it takes more.
19. Because we will do anything in our power to make the world a safer, saner, kinder, happier, more accepting place for our kids.
20. Because, well, you tell me.
Well, even if he can't say it and he had help making it. And even if he couldn't give it to me while shouting, "Happy Mothers Day" from behind the couch... I feel his love, it's in his eyes, in his smile, and in everything he does.