I read an article called "What I Know About Motherhood Now That I Have a Child with Special Needs" and I had to agree with everything in it, but now I find myself wondering what I really know. I've only been a part of this group for a little over a year and while I feel like I've learned a lot, there's a lot to be learned still. I still have a hard time acknowledging the fact that I have a child with special needs. Not because I can't accept it, but because more and more I don't think of her that way. In fact, I would have to say the one thing I do know now, is that all of the things I worried about in the beginning are so normal to me now that I just don't know life any other way.
When I thought about how all her therapies would work and how we'd fit them all in, I was overwhelmed. Now, I do still get overwhelmed at times, but it all just works out and if we have to skip one, it's really not the end of the world. I'm guessing she'll still walk at some point even if we have to miss a PT appointment. At the beginning of this school year I was so worried about how many sick days I might have to use and while it ended up being quite a valid concern, today, I don't care. We got through the sick months and enjoyed the healthy ones and we're looking forward to the fact that everyone keeps telling us the first year is the worst and that it should get better.
Here are some other things I know.
I know to trust my instincts. I haven't always done this, but since Tera was born I realized more than anything, I know my child. I can tell when something is not right with her and so far, I've been pretty accurate. In fact, last month when she had this horrendous cough for over three weeks and had been congested for just as long, numerous doctors told us they didn't see any indication of a sinus or ear infection. The cough really bothered me and I was convinced it was the result of something. After the drainage from her ear and another doctor telling us she didn't think it was an infection, I contacted her ENT who felt it was an ear and sinus infection and prescribed an antibiotic and drops. Within a week of being on the antibiotic and drops, her ear was clear and the cough and congestion were gone. But during those weeks when I was sure she was sick and doctors kept telling me they didn't see anything, I second guessed myself a lot and began to wonder if I wasn't just being over dramatic. Just one instance of me needing to trust my instincts.
She will do the things other kids her age, and even younger, are doing; in her own time. Tera really isn't that delayed, but it's hard when I see other kids, much younger than she is, doing things she isn't yet. What she can do is light up a room with her smile. She can inspire people that haven't even met her. She can brighten your day when you're not even in the same room as her. She can raise over $5000 for an organization that will always appreciate and encourage her. She can bring together more people than I ever thought possible. She can be just like every other 15 month old and get into lots of trouble and make her parents crazy.
Some of the things I'm still working on.
How to comfortably balance my life so that I feel fulfilled and happy. I want to spend quality time with Tera, but I don't think I could be a stay at home mom (not that it's really an option right now). When I do get to spend time with her, making sure it is actually quality time which is difficult in and of itself because we have to try and incorporate her goals into that time.
How to exist contentedly in the moment instead of reliving the past and worrying about the future. I honestly have no idea how to go about this.
How to be calm like my mom (who actually isn't calm at all, but it's a funny saying between my mom and sisters and I). Actually I'd take trying to be calm at all, but it just doesn't seem to be in my nature. It's a work in progress.
How to be a good mom. I think I'm doing pretty well so far, but just like in anything there is a need for constant reflection (some might think of this as compulsion) and the desire to improve.
I do not believe there is a perfect parent. I believe there are amazing ones and lousy ones and that anyone who loves their child has the potential to be an amazing one. How a person chooses to go about achieving that is a very personal decision and journey and ultimately you are only accountable to one person (or people depending on how many children you have). I didn't agree with everything my parents did when I was young but they did what they thought was right and as a parent myself now, I only hope I have the courage to do the same.