Being a mother is by far the most difficult and rewarding job I’ve ever had. Although my son made me a mommy over 17 years ago, having my daughter made our family complete. I’ve always wanted one of each and loved having a big brother to protect my baby girl. And that he has! He is often much more protective of Faith than I am, jumping to her requests and catering to her every need. As sweet as it is, and I love him for it, my priority as her mother, especially lately has been to teach her to be self-sufficient.
Being the mother of a child with special needs has many challenges. Many days I’ve cried, felt sorry for myself, asked why, and felt like giving up. Other days I feel confident and determined to find fresh ways of teaching her, playing with her and loving her the best I can. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. Many days, I doubt myself as a mother. I pray I serve her well and that I do not fail her. All things considered, I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I’m blessed and grateful to have my beautiful, loving baby girl in my life.
Faith will always be my baby girl, but she is a teenager now and her special needs have changed. She has excellent receptive knowledge, understanding everything we say. She’s excellent with puzzles and although, not verbally, she reads at a second or third grade level. Although, we struggle day to day with potty training and developing her speech. She is making a lot of progress but it is very slow going. Believe me… she has absolutely taught me patience. I don’t have a choice. She has to do things in her own time. If she is pushed beyond her limits, the yelling ensues and it’s just not worth upsetting us both. Patience is key. I’m not sure who gets more frustrated, me or her?! I’ve learned to choose my battles.
Our at-home speech training has produced little results. She tries so hard to move her little lips and make sounds as I instruct and over-emphasize every syllable. It breaks my heart. She WANTS to talk. And bless her heart she tries. I do not feel pity. I do not feel sorry for her. And I will not allow her to feel sorry for herself. So I praise her for every tiny accomplishment because to her, and to me, it’s not tiny at all. When she accomplishes a goal, it’s a VERY big deal! The first time she got dressed by herself… woo hoo PARTY TIME!!! Helping with household chores… “YAY FAITH! You did it!!!” I overly praise her and thank her for the slightest things. You know why? Because it helps her to feel like she can do things. It makes her feel good that she did ‘something’ right. And when she struggles every day to complete the smallest task, she deserves to feel good about what she CAN do. Building her confidence is crucial. I want her to feel great about herself! She should. She has come a very long way since the NICU, feeding tubes, and open-heart surgery. So if all she did was put her dish in the sink after dinner, without being told, to us she achieved greatness. If she’s happy, I feel like I got something right. I am her biggest cheerleader and her greatest fan (next to her brother, Matthew). I will always advocate for her and teach her confidence so that one day she can be her own self-advocate.
We, as moms, stress about everything. We feel exhausted. We worry if we are doing all we can. Ah but remember… the rewards are glorious. The smiles, hugs, kisses, and laughter are all so worth the struggles and remind us we are doing something right. So to all the other ‘Special Needs Moms’ out there, you are doing a magnificent job! Keep the ‘Faith’ 🙂