Although being a mom is the best job I've ever had, I have to confess that it is a tough gig.
Being a mom of a child with special needs can be an even tougher gig at times.
However, no matter how tough mothering can be (special needs or not) it is always a blessing and a privilege.
There are times though, when my heart aches for those who are in the trenches fighting daily for their kids to live the most fulfilled lives possible.
I know that raising a son on the autism spectrum requires more energy, greater patience, and constant monitoring as his manifestations change all the time.
Watching him struggle through wanting friends, but not being able to say "hi" to them because it hurts him to look them in the eyes breaks my heart.
Seeing him anxious about things that would not phase typical kids is painful.
Having him struggle with his rigidity while wanting to play with others is frustrating. He can't give up doing things his way. It creates too much anxiety; so much so that he will choose to play alone than play with others. It hurts as I watch my other two other sons navigate the typical way of play by taking turns with each other's ideas as Luke retreats into his own world.
The days when Luke has tantrums more akin to a toddler than a 4th grader, as strangers gawk, I feel embarrassed for me and sad for him.
When a friend tell me that "consistency is key" to improve my hyperactive, sensory seeking child, I feel ashamed. Does she not know how consistent we are? I begin to doubt myself. I question, "Maybe I'm not doing enough?"
Statements like "he'll grow out of it" or "I was like that when I was a kid and got over it eventually" truthfully fill me with anger. He has autism. I bitterly think to myself, "It is a neurological disorder, not allergies. You may have had some traits. We all do. But, when you mix all the traits together, it creates and very different outcome." It feels like they are minimizing my son's daily struggle. It makes me feel defeated because I wonder if people will ever get autism while I work so hard advocating for this disorder and for my sweet Luke.
In my moment of frustration, I feel like replying, "Yes, but you socialize typically, hugs don't physically hurt you, you can look people in the eyes, and you are able to carry on give and take conversations that don't revolve around reptiles for an indefinite amount of time."
But I hold back because I know they are not hurting my feelings intentionally. It is just like when I miscarried and people would say things like, "it is common" or "at least you have one child already."
Sometimes friends say insensitive comments out of feeling uncomfortable or simply out of not knowing what else to say. We've all been there. I get it, but the words still sting.
And I acknowledge that I am ultra sensitive, which makes my interpretation of their words more painful than they should be.
To go nine years without hugs and "I love you's" challenges me greater than anything else. In the autistic mind, he knows that he loves me. Why then would he have to touch me (doesn't everyone hate to be touched?) or tell me that he loves me since I know that already?
As I travel on this ever changing and often lonely journey, the Lord has put a specific prayer on my heart for mothers of special needs children.
Please give daily strength to the mom who is serving her child whose special needs are sometimes greater than what she can handle. May she know that you are there with her.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Give this mom the protection of God to deflect the stares and comments from strangers.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
Help her to not take to heart the well-meaning comments of others. May friendships and relationships be strengthened by words of sensitive encouragement. And may there be forgiveness when someone hurts her feelings by words of insensitive advice or judgement.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
May supportive friends and moms walking similar paths enter her life so she does not feel so alone.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Give her perseverance as she struggles. Lots and lots of it.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations bring about perseverance.
And more than anything, help her to see her child as you do, which is in Your image.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.