I’ve been a mom for lots of years. Almost 21 now. I’ve been a “special needs mom” for over 17. These are different kinds of moms, but the same in lots of ways.
I never in a million years thought I would be a mom of a kid who needed extra help. You don’t plan for that in your head. You don’t look at your toddler, who is doing everything right on target and perfect in your eyes, then rub your pregnant belly and think “yea, this next one will be completely different and need extra help for the rest of his life”. You think things will go just like they did the first time. You will have a nice easy birth, go home and start writing milestones in the baby book. You will have play dates and dress the kid up cute and take it to the park and have coffee with moms while you all smile dreamily at your perfect little rugrats, while sharing the cute things they say and how high they can count.
Sesame Street will help you out, teaching your kid to count to 10 in Spanish, and Barney will teach it how to share. You think of all the stuff your kid is going to do, and wonder if he’d like baseball or soccer or maybe a skateboard. You look at the kids his age and wonder which ones his friends might be, or which girl may eventually be his first crush. Who will he sit with on the bus or at lunch? Will he be a good student? Or will he be a rebel? Maybe class president giving a speech in front of his class in the auditorium while you beam with pride in the front row.
You think of all the things that will happen…and then they don’t. The milestones don’t come, the playdates become less, the moms don’t understand. You are a different kind of mother, thrust into a parallel universe and instead of football practice you are at physical therapy. Instead of speeches, you attend speech therapy..but you still beam proudly.
As a mother, I have goals for my children. The first time around Abby was hitting milestones left and right, mastering every goal set in front of her. She learned quickly, spoke early and well. She was a sweetheart, always chattering away happily, carefree and loving.
Logan was not. He was missing milestones left and right, struggling to master the basics. He didn’t speak. At all. He became frustrated and hard to handle. He would scratch or bite or flail when angry, and you would never know what would set him off, because he couldn’t communicate what he needed or what he was feeling.
I didn’t know how to be this kind of mother. My kids were going to be right on target. They were going to be sweet, smart, well behaved and I would show how good I was at this mothering gig. I couldn’t understand what went wrong, or how to fix it. I was no longer anchored, I was floating out into space with nothing to hold onto, and unable to catch my breath.
This was an odd time for me in my life, having one child who was so close to perfect and another who was struggling and so hard to help. I was very young, and had no idea what I was in for. I had no way of knowing how long of a journey I had just started, or how difficult it would be. I had no clue I would spend days on end at doctors appointments and my child would endure endless tests, pokes and prods.
I also had no idea how hard I would fall for this kid. My hard to handle, impossible to tame, difficult to help son. My wordless, biting, scratching, flailing kid, who I couldn’t get to know because I couldn’t communicate with him.
I am a different mother than I would have been, but as hard as its been, I love the mother that I am and the child that I have helped Logan become. It was worth every single frigging second. Every sleepless night, every long afternoon in therapy, every mile traveled to specialists office. Even though my child was not anything that I expected him to be, the day he was born I gave my life over to him and buckled down for the long haul. He owns my heart, and I would do anything I can to help him. He has become an amazing, inspiring young man and although he may not be the class president or football captain- I could not possibly be any more proud of him than I am.
I am so lucky to be his mom. I reflect each Mother’s Day and look back on how far we’ve come. We’re a damn good team.
Happy Mother’s Day no matter what kind of mother you are. It’s not always easy, we’re not always perfect, but every day is a new day, a chance to try again. You can’t predict or control the path you will travel with your child, but you can hold his hand while he jumps the hurdles, and cheer for him every time, no matter how small.