This month I am hosting a guest post series called Parenting Perspectives. This week Heather DeGeorge from Educated Adventures is here to encourage and inspire us with her perspective of parenting a child with special needs. Enjoy!
Let me tell you about my son…
My son was the fifth child to occupy my womb of 6 total and the only one that would result in a live birth. I feel strongly that God saw my perseverance after the 4th loss and said to himself “She wants herself a child badly enough to love a tough case.” I sure got one.
So often we parents of special needs children come to live a life that inadvertently becomes defined by our children’s problems. Life becomes a series of therapies and nights of research or online support groups. It’s not intentional or malicious–it’s just how it happens. We never know the delight of the moment because we are plotting the future… what else can we do? Who can we see? What can we give them to help? Who on EARTH can care for them if and when something happens to me (and my spouse)? Will they ever live independently? It’s an organic process for sure. But it’s not a positive one.
Let me tell you what my son’s challenges have done for me.
They showed my family our priorities. The rest of the world fell away and we truly lived in the world and not of it. There simply wasn’t room for the things that didn’t matter and the things that mattered had to have our resources. Living a life in the path of Christ was one of those things and Sunday morning sermons (although they were done from home) were crucial to reconnecting us to the Word. Reminding one another that God always provided as long as we walked in faith allowed us to remain calm in a time of chaos.
They have shown me what I am capable of. Oh for the love… I used to manage roughly $2M worth of projects quarterly in New York City and thought I had it together better than most. Yet the management of my son’s care was so much more complex and involved. Only the love of a parent could push a human to reach inside to organize, research, advocate and implement interventions the way my son has caused me to do. People often said that they could never do all I had done for my son and I have always been quick to tell them that if they’d HAD my son, they’d have been doing the same things.
They have forced me to be humble. I promise you that there is no way to get on your high horse when you are constantly being humbled by a new set of challenges with each new stage of life. You never have a chance to get too comfortable, I assure you. I’m okay with that. The world needs more humility and less complacency.
They have shown me who my friends are. The people who believe me when I say there’s a problem instead of insisting that I’m just worrying too much. The people who don’t understand, but will listen attentively and ask meaningful questions and hold me when I need to cry. The people that will stand there and learn his intricacies and inconsistencies so that I can leave him for an hour or two (or overnight) and truly know he is cared for. Sometimes that’s not going to be a family member.
They have shown me to see beyond the challenges. In our case, it came during a lull between therapy providers that gave us a much-needed break. Suddenly, I saw a child. And I cried because I had never seen my son as a child before. I realized we had never developed as a FAMILY. We had been a therapeutic unit for a set of disabilities. Until that Divinely placed lull that gave me the pause I needed to simply see him smile and know that there was a little person underneath it all.
We have been blessed beyond measure with the things my son has overcome; and we continue to battle the things that come and go as well as the new things to work on. Life is ever changing with my son and so he has also given us resilience.
I still haven’t told you about my son.
My son has blond hair and blue eyes with long eyelashes. He has an undying curiosity. He gets lost in the bathroom for an hour as he spews story after story after story to the exclusion of all life on earth. And he has never seen a written word he didn’t instantly love.
My beautiful child.
And that’s all miracle I need today.
Heather DeGeorge is a Jersey girl displaced to the Midwest with her husband and two small miracles. She maintains that pumping gas is not for her and lakes with waves are not oceans. Teacher-turned-homeschooler by days, consultant and speaker by evenings and weekends, she blogs about educating and connecting with children instead of folding laundry at educatedadventures.com.