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Joy through special needs

The week my daughter was born I had a lot of sadness. I also had greater joy because I was celebrating her birth! A welcomed and loved addition or our little family, I sent an email to friends the day after we got home from the hospital. I said something about welcoming our beautiful daughter into the world. I mentioned her amazing eyes, her long finger and toes and I said how happy we were she joined our family. In the second paragraph I told everyone who loved us about her failing kidneys and said we were sad about that but we needed for people to celebrate her life.

I think, without knowing it, I set up how I wanted to embrace the joys of this new life of parenting kids with special needs before the sadness.

Is the sadness still there? Yes. But are the joys I have sweeter? Probably.

When we asked the community to share their joys I realized that there was a similar theme. We all shared in the miraculous joys of daily mundane (not to us) events like walking and eating. We have and continue to celebrate the milestones our children with special needs. We particularly like typical events like siblings who play and learn from each other, when our kids make friends and when they laugh and smile.

We like to see our children thrive and have pride. Milestones come in many forms. One mom said she got to witness her son learn how to open his eyes – fused since birth – and thought, “Who else gets that privilege?” One mom said, “I once heard that when you have a child with special needs, you don’t just celebrate milestones, you celebrate “inchstones.”

Five or more years ago that I realized I do love to witness the little things (milestones especially) and I was (am) probably even smug about that fact. I reason that my challenges should at least afford me the opportunity to have something over my friends who have children with typical development. I probably should feel bad but I do not.

You know what? I watch my daughter jump up in the air about 4 inches on both feet. That alone probably does not seem that spectacular but it took her nearly 3 years of trying. Therapy. Falling. Frustration. Laughing. When my son, who struggles with confidence, is even a little bit proud of himself, even just a tad, I feel joy. Immense joy.

I’m not afraid to admit the struggles we face make the joys in our life sweeter; sweeter than those of you with typical families.

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