Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What I Am Thankful For As A Special Needs Parent

Image Credit: http://midnightpoem.tumblr.com/post/103252099329

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.... And be thankful." 
Colossians 3:15 NIV

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I just love the opportunity to gather with family and reflect on all the things we are grateful for, realize how blessed we truly are, all while eating some amazing food.


Although I don't always love the special needs parenting journey I am on, there are plenty of things I am thankful for about it. Today, I'd like to share with you the five things I am most thankful for in this special needs journey.


1) Progress

It's so easy to focus on all the areas our children are struggling, their weaknesses, how far they are behind their peers.

In the Genesis account of God creating the world, He said “it was good,” after everything He created. He didn’t just say “it was good,” when it was all done. We must do that too. Celebrate the little victories as well as the big. Celebrate not just the huge milestones, but every little inch in between. And whether they've made a lot of progress, or just a little, progress is progress and I'm very thankful for it!


2) Strength

Being a special needs parent molds you into a different person. Stronger, more determined, more resilient, more passionate about a world you hadn't experienced before. I'm thankful for that.

But the way I've grown the strongest? Is my faith. Sure, I've questioned God a lot in this journey, but I also trust Him more than I ever did before. I need to rely on God like never before. My faith is totally different now, than it was six or seven years ago when my older son started getting diagnosis after diagnosis, and I am so very thankful for that.


3) Community

I'll admit, I've lost a few friends in this special needs journey. But I've gained so many more. Whether I met them online or God's allowed our paths to cross in real life, I've met people I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

And I'm so thankful for each and every one of my friends, family members, my children's teachers and therapists. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I'm so grateful for mine, for all the people who pour into my children in ways I cannot and celebrate with me every new bit of progress.


4) Education

I was a middle school English teacher before becoming a special needs parent. The things I've learned since this journey began are priceless to me. I devour books on sensory processing and speech and language as if they were the middle school books I used to love and recommend to my students. I appreciate all the new things I've learned that have helped me care for my own children. And I'm always thankful when I'm able to share my new insights with others.

This new education I've attained has opened my eyes to a bigger world than I had previously experienced. A world where I now have more compassion, more understanding, more passion for advocating for what is best for each and every child. I know that if I were to ever return to the classroom, my teaching would be totally changed because of everything I've learned on this journey.


And last, but definitely not least,


5) My Children

I loved my children even before they were born. And when each of them received diagnosis after diagnosis, I grieved. I cried. I feared for their future. I've compared them to other kids and felt devastated at how far behind they are their peers.

But I'm thankful I have the privilege of watching them blossom in their own way. I'm proud of how hard they work to learn what comes so easily to others. I love joining them when they get to do something they're excited and passionate about and watching them come alive. I love their own ways they show me they love me. I love celebrating with them when they learn a new word or a new skill. They bring so much joy and purpose to my life and I am so thankful that God gave them to me.


Prayer: Dear God, it is so easy to focus on the challenges in my life, but please help me to see all the things I have to be thankful for. So many blessings that I couldn't even list them all. Help me to have an attitude of gratitude every day, not just at Thanksgiving.


By Jenn Soehnlin

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