Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Loving the Special Needs Mother With a Pierced Heart This Mother's Day

"...And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”
 ~ Luke 2:35, GNT ~

Mary's heart must have been excited and full as she brought her week old first born baby to the temple for his dedication.  Seeing the angel-shared prophesy come to its fulfillment in her tiny Jesus, she surely must have been full of anticipation thinking of a grand future for her son.  The Jewish people had big expectations for their long-awaited Messiah, and Mary was likely no exception.

Imagine the shock and dismay when Mary heard Simeon's words warning her of the heartbreak that awaited her.  What could possibly bring such dread after the grateful proclamation of salvation Simeon had just made?  Surely these words must have sprung up in Mary's mind as she watched her son suffer.

If you are the mother of a child with special needs, Mary's pain may be very similar to your pain.  In your own experience, you live with a pierced heart.  You too have had big dreams for your child that were shifted by seemingly out-of-control circumstances.  

While so many eyes are focused on that child and their uphill battle, few pay much attention to the heartache born by the one lovingly raising such a child.  Every mother has a high calling and a selfless, challenging job.  But those whose hearts bear the scars of watching their child unjustly suffer cry out for a little more of the world's love and comfort.  

Is the average mother sleep-deprived from her child's illness?  The special needs mother has sleeplessness as a constant companion.  Does worry nag at typical mothers?  It relentlessly harasses the mother raising a child with a disability.  Are there serious decisions for every mother to make about her child's medical treatment, education, and future?  Those are only a fraction of what the mother raising a child with a chronic diagnosis must face.

Not that life is a pain contest.  It's just that a mom raising a child with special needs has a heavier load, many more sorrows and much fewer of the simple pleasures others take for granted.  If she is fortunate enough to find a babysitter who is willing to watch her remarkable child, all of the medical and therapy bills may well have eaten up any funds for a possible date or haircut or vacation.  And as she faces these things, she lives in a world that expects way too much from her.

Yes, we mothers of children with a serious diagnosis may be a bit more abrasive, but can you blame them?  They are at war with the school, fighting to get accommodations which the law guarantees to our child, but educators often wish to deny.  Bullying is a constant battle and frustration.  They are at war with doctors, attempting to get accurate diagnoses and treatments for our child.  The level of frustration we mothers feel in being talked down to by medical professionals who barely know our children can hardly be underestimated.  They are at war with neighbors, relatives, churches and the like who are too quick to criticize and too slow to help with the heavy load of child rearing.

Love and compassion are the greatest gifts for the special needs mother with that broken heart this Mother's Day.  Withholding criticism, offering to watch her children to give her a break, sending an anonymous gift card for a dinner out for her and her husband, weeding her garden, including and comforting her in the church community are only a few of the simple ways to show her that you care.  Listening, I mean really listening, even if you have compassion fatigue, is a tenderhearted gift you can give this mother.  Little, simple acts of kindness are a big deal to her.  Taking the time to mentally put yourself in her shoes may be one of the most charitable things you could do for her.  It will change the entire way you view and treat her.

Whether you are the mother of a child with special needs, someone closely acquainted with such a parent or a member of the society as a whole, this Mother's Day reach beyond the common warmth of this observance and pour out some extra love on the mother with a pierced, broken heart.  It cannot make up for what her child endures, but it can strengthen her for the journey and renew her view of mankind.  Even Jesus recognized this from the cross as He entrusted his precious mother to the care of the "disciple whom he loved."

PRAY:  O Father of compassion and God of all comfort, pour out an extra measure of your care and love on the mother who parents a child with special needs this Mother's Day.  She needs the superior hope and affection that only You can provide.  Help each of us to be a steward of Your care and to be Your hands and feet in pouring out that love upon her.

~ Barb Dittrich
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