Parenting is tough, no matter what your situation, and I give all the parents out there some major credit. This job is challenging, to say the least! But to my homies, my special needs parents, I’ll give you a little something extra – you guys rock. This is a crazy club to be a part of. I would be lying if I said right now “I wouldn’t have it any other way”. Sure, being a parent to my Harry man has changed my life, and I am proud of who I am today, but I would give ANYTHING in the entire world to give him a normal life. I would do ANYTHING to change his situation, and give him the abilities he so deserves.
Let’s rewind here – I’m sure all of you parents out there remember life before kids. You dream about your children, about who they will be. You dream about your life – what kind of parent will you be? You wonder if you’ll be strict or a pushover, and laugh when you think of comparing yourself to your parents. You plan for the perfect delivery, the perfect baby, the perfect family, and then it happens and it’s anything but perfect. But let me tell you a little secret – that feeling multiplied a thousand times is what happens when you have a special needs child. When you realize your child is different – it could be during an ultrasound when you’re pregnant, after birth, or even when your child is a bit older – life as you know it comes crashing down. It takes a while to get adjusted, but we all do it. We live, we learn, we get tough, and we do what we need to for our kids. Part of us special parents will always long for “normalcy”, not only for our child’s sake, but for the family’s sake. Hell, for our sake. We all have moments that we look back and say “Why me? Why us?” This is healthy and normal – we want the best for our kids.
I remember when I was in college (the first time for Equine Sciences, aka horse stuff) it was suggested to me that I look in to therapeutic riding. I remember a professor trying to talk me in to it because of my medical background. They thought I was a great combination to help children with special needs enjoy the benefits of horseback riding. I politely but vehemently refused. I knew I didn’t have the patience for special needs riders, and knew it was better suited for someone else. I had no desire to work with special needs children and knew it wasn’t something I was going to be good out. Well, look at me know! The big man upstairs works in mysterious ways.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that life is not on a prewritten script. The more adaptable we can be, the better life can be! Change is scary, but change is good. It rounds us as people, gives us good experience, adds character, and all that good stuff. Many special needs parents will be familiar with the poem “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley. I was just recently introduced to it, maybe a few months ago. The first time I read it I cried like a baby, and it still often moves me to tears. It talks about what we imagine as parents, and how we feel when those dreams are taken from us. I dream of Italy, but am finally feeling comfortable (albeit a little tired) in Holland. My fellow Hollanders – today and always I send you my love and support! It’s okay to still miss the feeling of dreaming of Italy, just enjoy the tulips too.