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I Have Been There

April 1, 2010
Maria Spencer

When you are raising a child with special needs, you see the world in a whole new way-because our kids have changed the make-up of our hearts, the way in which we respond to things around us has changed. Things that used to bother or frustrate us, seem very minor now, situations or crises that arise, are not as catastrophic as they used to be. We are changed people, thanks to our extraordinary children.

I believe that God chose us to be special parents for many reasons. But the one that stands out for me the most this month is the fact that he chose us to be an example for others-to let our light shine, regardless of the struggles we have been through with our child, and to appreciate each and every moment, encounter, and circumstance in our life.

After all, others are watching-from the very new special parent, to the typical parent that is eager to learn everything about parenthood. Those parents we encounter on a day-to-day basis-either at work, at our child's school, or picking up our cup of coffee in the morning-they are all watching. I use every encounter with a parent to show them that they will be ok on this journey, because I have been there.

I have been there when the outcome of a hospital stay is uncertain, and indescribable fear has taken over my entire being.

I have been there when I had to trust professionals that are encouraging me that my child will make progress-even when I could see no results.

I have been there when transitioning to pre-school and kindergarten feels like someone has taken our world and turned it upside-down, and we have to say our goodbyes, and once again, trust.

I have been there when the hopes and dreams that I once had for my baby girl were forever altered.

And I have been there when I learned to enjoy dreaming new dreams for my extra-special little girl.

Because we special parents have had more experiences than most parents, we have learned to take nothing for granted. We appreciate each and every goal our child has met-no matter how small. Each sound, glance, step, or day of stable health is considered a victory to us. And as we grow into more seasoned parents, we automatically become more grateful human beings. You see, the gratefulness, thanks to our amazing children, almost subconsciously spills over into every area of our lives. All of a sudden (or maybe over time, depending on your circumstances), the trivial misfortunes that come with this life don't seem to bother us as much as they used to. We become people with not only changed hearts on the inside, but on the outside, too.

We've learned to be happy to be alive each and every day-to see each and every beam of sunshine that falls on us. To stop and not only smell the flowers, but to enjoy how our kids react to them. To truly see all that God has given us in the world around us, in our families, in our workplace-through all of our encounters.

When we set this example for other parents, our lights shine the most. They can see clearly then, that our children are not a burden to our lives, but a blessing. And that blessing is not only spreading into our families, but to all that we come in contact with. Each and every conversation is an opportunity to spread the joy and love that naturally flows down from gratitude, and can ultimately change the way others see the world, too. I am in awe of the people that are placed into my path each and every day that I can spread this blessing to, through my daughter.

Just imagine what our world would look like if all of the special parents would share their "I have been there" moments with others, and in turn, spread the blessing.

My prayer this month is that you will be driven to do just that.

Trust me, the results will be amazing-I have been there.



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