It's no secret how hard this 'special needs' life can be. How relentless and how heartbreaking. But life isn't either/or -- life is both/and. We have to be willing to hold the good and the bad in the same unclenched hand.
And the fact is that I love being a special needs mom. Here's why.
My life is infused with wonder. It's easy for aggravations and doldrums to dominate a mom's attention in everyday life, but my life doesn't allow that for long. I have a front row seat to something extraordinary. Because milestones - however tiny - are hard won, they are huge and cause for celebration. Because so many people shy away, genuine kindness is touching and beautiful. Because I am constantly reminded of the tenuous nature of life, the ordinary things can take my breath away.
I get to experience the bond of overcoming. When we first learned that Collin's life was going to be very, very different from what we had imagined, a dear friend confided that even though she didn't envy the hardship I faced, she was a little jealous of what Collin and I would share. She worried afterwards that she had been offensive, but I've pondered those words ever since and have come to realize she was right. When you face the unthinkable alongside someone, it changes your relationship. And Collin's whole life thus far has been an exercise in overcoming. When you face a condition that is static or even degenerative, it's not the condition you're overcoming. It's the power of that condition over your life. So, as you keep on living together, keep on comforting each other and sharing joys, that ongoing act of overcoming changes things between you.
Finally, it means I get to be Collin's mom. I'm not being trite, here. This is the ultimate both/and declaration. There is no being Collin's mom without being a 'special needs' mom and so I love it. Even though it regularly puts me through the ringer, I love it. Even though I would never have chosen it, I love it. Even though I hate it, I love it. Because I get to be the one mom of this one exceptional person.
Happy Mother's Day, ladies. It's a both/and day for all of us.