First off, as a quick update for anyone who was wondering, I did not win a scholarship to the She Speaks Conference....at least not yet. There were over 200 entries into the competition and only 2 people chosen. I read the blogs of the winners and think they were very good! They both had applied in past years, so it is likely especially sweet for them to have this reward to their persistence. I am considering applying again through a couple other Proverbs 31 avenues. We will see....
So on with today's post...
I've mentioned a few times that I am mom of a child with special needs. It took me a long time to use those words, actually. They still feel awkward as they spill out of my mouth sometimes. I accepted them, however, long before a diagnosis was even given. I knew my child well enough to know that the needs were there - along with some fabulously wonderful strengths. Many mommas might have a hard time "accepting" the challenges they wish weren't there, but I believe, most of us, at the heart, know when our children march to a slightly different beat of the drum.
Oddly enough, at one time...rather, on a few occasions...I told God that if He wanted me to be the mommy of a child with special needs, I would take that role on. As well, He had given me a tenderness toward those with different abilities at a really young age. I've been working in one way or another with individuals with special needs for about 30 years now. My mom taught me early on that there are those who may look, learn, or think differently than I do, but who are just as deserving of my love and attention. So, I guess I should not be surprised that I was blessed with a special someone with unique needs.
If you were to look at my beautiful family and, perhaps, even spend a little time with my crazy crew, you may not realize immediately that there are special needs here. Or, alternatively, you may think we all have special needs (which, in reality is so very true). That's because my child's disabilities are "hidden", at least to a degree. One of my kiddos has the dynamic diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Along with the ADHD, there is the added label of a Learning Disability. A Learning Disability is identified when . Unfortunately, my child's LD is not in one area, but three - reading, writing, and math. Ugh. Someone I love and respect who has ADD (that's ADHD minus the hyperactive piece) recently told me, "if I was graded for my effort, I would have had straight A's...I had to put in 4 times as much work and energy to get the work done." And, it can just be so hard. For my child. For me. For my amazing husband. For our wee family. How is it fair that one little person can be hit with so much?
And yet, because the disability is "invisible" - no syndromic appearance or weakened limbs, no wheelchair or altered gait, just the beautiful face of a beautiful child, inquisitive and bright -, even though we are fully aware of it's existence every single day, we are somehow, sometimes caught off balance by it. My friend Laura Luyt used a great analogy that resonated with me so well in her blog Little Feet In My House. She said,
Or like when you try to go upstairs in the dark – and you mistake where the last step is? Has anyone else done this? You take an extra step, thinking there's one more there, and your leg jarringly comes down to the ground later than expected, assaulting your heightened senses in the dark. It never fails to surprise me. .... Taking steps that are landing in unexpected places and being jolted out of where I thought I was going.That's how my life feels sometimes as I navigate in the world of invisible disabilities. DO NOT GET ME WRONG HERE...I am the first to say what an absolutely amazing child I have. This child is like no other and has some fabulous strengths and a fun personality. I wish a little bit of this wonderful miracle would rub off on me sometimes. I wish I could bottle the energy therein. If I could sell it, I would be rich. If I could capture some of the willingness to live full out on fast speed, at least for a moment, imagine what I would experience. If I were less afraid to look foolish from time to time in order to LIVE OUT LOUD what cool things could I accomplish. There really is richness and wonder and amazing life living in this little person of mine!
Once again, I realize that I really must view the world and my children through the lens of the One that created them. I need to see through the rough stuff and find the beauty EVEN in the middle of the hurricanes that come full force. I need to encourage and support when the learning is so much work. I need to remember that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and so can mine be. I need to rejoice and celebrate the good stuff within and share it with my sweet pea. I need to nurture the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). And, I need to make sure I carve out the time I need - with myself, with my husband, with my other children, with friends, and especially with God - to make myself the best mommy I can be.
If you've noticed, I have not used my child's name in this post anywhere. I have done this intentionally. One day I may share, but for now, there is no need. Please respect this if you choose to comment (and I love it when you do). I love all my kids with all their unique strengths and weaknesses. Each one stretches me beyond myself. Each one reminds me what an amazing God we have...a God with creativity, wisdom, strength, and a good sense of humor. Each child reminds me that I need His strength to get me through each day of my mommy journey. I don't know how I would ever do it on my own strength...I just couldn't.
I am thankful for my child. Some days, I hate the ADHD and the LD because of the heartache it can bring. But I will forever be thankful for and love my child. I cannot WAIT to see what God has in store for my sweet baby. I cannot WAIT to see what God has store for me - as He continues to shape and refine me.
I'm finishing with a video of a song that is new-ish to me and which I have been so encouraged by. If you were here with me, you would hear me belt it out at the top of my lungs. I am just so glad that God makes beautiful things out of us, even in our imperfection and frailty. Thanks so much for reading and soak in the song before you go. You will be glad you did.