I’ve never considered myself a special needs mom. I felt those titles were reserved for people doing far more than me. Or moms raising kids with physical disabilities. It almost felt like I was cheating other mothers by even thinking that way.
Now, here’s the thing. I will call myself a “trauma mama” all day long. Give me the t-shirt, the badge, the sticker, whatever you want to give me. That one I will acknowledge and tell anyone with pride. All my other foster/adoptive mamas can raise their glass to that and clink with an understanding that only few can understand. That much I can guarantee.
But special needs mom? That one felt reserved for those doing the really hard work. The moms who never get a break and sit by their children’s bed at night to make sure they are still breathing. The moms who have to get special vans to accommodate all the medical equipment.
I looked at them from afar, raised my glass, and toasted them with deepest admiration. But I would have never tried to put my own glass in the mix. Besides, we all know that one person. You know what I mean. You talk about your dog dying when you were 12, and they talk about watching their mom accidentally run over their dog when they were 5. You lose a loved one and they constantly remind you of their own pain from losing a loved one.
I didn’t want to be that mom.
Then, the Covid hit and it closed our developmental daycare that my 2 year old attends. And things got real.
You see, I am for ALL the therapies. Sign us up. Henry has attended a developmental daycare since he was 10 months old (outpatient since 2 months old) and there is no shame in that. I am not a mom in denial when it comes to medications or therapies.
But did I consider myself a mom to a special needs child? No.
Until this week.
It took me becoming the therapist in my home and seeing how much he struggles to acknowledge it. And it was so hard. Not hard for me to admit. That I’m okay with it. But for me to acknowledge the things he will continue to have to overcome.
We’ve known for over a year that Henry struggles from the effects of alcohol during pregnancy. In fact, he’s one of the “lucky” ones in that he was diagnosed early and has all the physical features that make it easier to spot. We’ve also known he has medical issues that make him more susceptible to respiratory illness. We thicken his liquids, give him multiple inhalers daily, and see multiple specialists. He also has global developmental delays and major speech delays that qualify him for a developmental preschool and 300+ minutes of therapy per week.
But special needs mom? That title is only reserved for moms doing WAY more than me. That title is only reserved for moms caring for the needs of their child 24/7. Those moms are truly the heroes.
Then, this happened……
This week I was texting one of these hero moms about teletherapy. You see, we are both in the trenches right now trying to figure out how to make it work. Her child was struggling and she was beside herself trying to help him. The same was happening here so we were supporting each other over the phone and passing along tips and tricks.
Then, she ended our text with a fist in the air and the words “special needs mothers unite.”
And I paused. This hero mom was calling me a special needs mom? Me? That title is only reserved for people doing so much for their child. Those who eat, sleep, and breathe therapies and doctors appointments. Mom’s doing a way better job than me.
But, you know what? She was right.
I am a special needs mom. I’m raising a toddler who is not developing typically and it’s hard. I am up late at night googling FAS, CAS, chronic lung disease, etc. I’m balancing the difference in strong willed fits, and neurological damage and doing my best not to screw up.
I’m tired, I want a break, and I literally find myself consumed with Henry. Our plans are often altered for his schedule and keeping a routine is so important. My other kids have to sacrifice two parents attending their events because it’s too much for him. They have given up a lot and sometimes that guilt hits me like a ton of bricks.
So you know what……My name is Tamra and I’m a mom to a kid with special needs. I am a special needs mom.