I am a special needs mom, though his special need is not something physical or easy to see. Instead my Sweet Boy-Child seems typical. His special need is in his mind.
Sweet Boy-Child has developmental delays and speech delays. Though not the definition of special need, they do make life harder. They do impact him, our family, and his everyday life. Along with these delays, Boy-Child battles severe anxiety. I know many people suffer with anxiety, but Boy-Child’s makes everyday, typical life difficult. His anxiety is severe. Coupled with his delays, some days and some situations can seem impossible. Interwoven into his anxiety are sensory processing issues as well. At this point, it is difficult to unravel whether these sensory issues are due to his brain’s inherent make up, or because of his severe anxiety. Sweet Boy-Child battles oh so many things that make his everyday life hard: severe anxiety + sensory processing, developmental delays, and speech delays. Each layer adds to the prior one, leaving us in a confusing jumble.
Each day is met with different struggles, different situations that may trigger a landslide of events. Some days the triggers are small but have great, far reaching effects (like an ant outside) and other days the triggers are big with more minimal effects (like Baby Boy shouting or touching). No matter what transpires, the day is hard. Be it for only a moment or something bigger that reaches deep into my heart. The day is hard.
Today is one of those “tentacles of hard beginning in the morning and reaching deep into who I am” hard days. They touch my soul. And it stings.
It began with a Lego. Sweet Boy-Child has been browsing Lego Magazines early in the morning (because he wakes too early). Lately, he has found his life to be lacking all.the.legos. But more specially, all the creepy Legos. You see, like most preschoolers and toddlers, Boy Child is fixated on one thing. Unlike most preschoolers, the focus is one that is extremely difficult to let go of, and it ebbs into every segment of his life. Unfortunately, and mostly to the thanks of having a big brother, his focus is on bad guys and creepy things (hello fear of the dark, sleeping alone…).
Anyway, we try to teach and practice gratefulness daily, but this theory is difficult to impart to Boy Child. His developmental delays significantly impact his communication. He has difficulty understanding what I am saying to him and expressing himself in return. This has gotten better, he has words to speak now but there are times when his understanding isn’t there. And with topics that are more abstract, this is magnified. So we are all left feeling frustrated. Throw in 3 other siblings, rushing to get ready for school, and all the difficulties of this life are blown out of proportion.
But let’s pause for a moment. Remember that we are dealing with more than delays and sensory issues, but also severe anxiety. An anxiety that made it impossible to be outside if it was windy, an anxiety that made it impossible to walk on the wood floors of our house because of the wood grain. And suddenly, it becomes easier to see how a seemingly simple frustration so easily escalates when you can’t understand.
I may understand the reasoning, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier.
The morning continued and the older kids got to the bus stop. Boy Child is still frustrated with me, but we push through to get on our way to preschool. Once there, it erupts. He clings to the car, he screams and cries. And now that he can communicate, the cries are heart-wrenching cries to stay with me. Cries of “I just want to be with you, Mommy.” And I can’t even. As one of the many therapists (who are oh so close to my heart) pull him from the car, and from me, and carries him into school, I sob.
I know he will be okay at school. But I know him. I see him. I understand the pain, the fear, the anxiety as he is brought into school. And it breaks this Mama heart. And so I find a parking lot to cry. Again. I know he will be fine once he gets past the cubbies. I know he will be okay once he gets into his school day routine. But for now, I let my tears be the voice of my heart. I let my tears speak because right now, right now, I just can’t.
And I wonder. When will life be easier. Please don’t get me wrong. It is already night and day better than it was a few short months ago. We went from 40 words to sentences for goodness sake! But that doesn’t mean we’re done. He’s not done growing and neither are we.
Though this journey has been hard, it has also been beautiful. I can look back at each step, and I know that they are all good, even if I don’t see the good. I can look back and stand firm that God is using it for His glory. Even these tears. And I am reminded, as I continue to re-read the Bible, that there is victory in the Lord.
“The Lord is my strength and my song,
and He has become my salvation;
this is my God and I will praise Him
…and I will exult Him.” (Exodus 15:2)
Wherever you are in your Motherhood Journey, know that I see you and that you are not alone. I know that our journey may not look like other special needs journeys, but know this: there are no in between families. It just doesn’t exist. Sensory children, children suffering anxiety, children with physical special needs – they all need help. We all need help. Let’s band together. Let’s smile at one another, because life is hard. We can’t always help shoulder one another’s burdens, oh but how we can encourage each other. And from one mom to another, I think that is a special gift.
So from one mom crying in the parking lot, to another mom hurting, special needs or not, wherever you find yourself. I see you and you’re not alone.