Being a mom on a regular day with a normal child is hard, but when you add a special needs child, things go from hard to heavy, depressing, and desperate.
It makes you not want to get out of bed because you know it will be another day like the one you just had. Never knowing when the next meltdown is going to happen, you hide at home in fear of judgments of the people around you.
Grandma was always good at comforting me when I was upset, except when talking about William.
Things were different when she was a girl. Children like William were thought a waste of time to teach. They were considered “retarded” by society. Even doctors said there was no hope.
Grandma did not have an encouraging word or any experience to bring comfort- and all I felt was disappointed.
As the kids and I walked the aisle at Aldi, I was approached by a woman, who invaded my personal space to talk to me. I was a little surprised, being so focused on buying my groceries and getting out of there, I wasn’t prepared to have a stranger stop and talk to me.
The woman, named Michelle, took this opportunity to talk to my children. They, in their beautiful innocence, saw what I was too distracted to see. They saw a woman who was not unlike their brother, William.
Treating her with kindness and compassion, they set the example not only for everyone else in the store but me as well. I stood there in awe at how amazing my children were.
While Michelle talked, I pieced together that the perfectly coifed and attired white-haired woman watching, was her mother. I walked over to her and asked if I could hug her. It was more than a hug, but a passing of emotional energy filled with love, life, and hope.
Over the next 5 minutes, I learned her story. She was a mother of nine; the youngest was 44, Michelle and her twin brother, and he had earned his doctorate. I hugged her again for sharing the experience of raising a large family.
Then I asked it! The same question I ask every special needs mom, “How do you do it because I constantly feel like a failure?”
She told me Michelle wasn’t supposed to walk or talk. The doctors didn’t know what to do for her, so they did nothing. Peg pushed for therapies; the doctors were sure was a waste.
She reminded me that I am the only advocate for my child. I am the only one who can push for a better life for him.
A Soul Hug
Before I left her, she hugged my soul. “I am so blessed to have my daughter. My husband died many years ago. My other children are all grown and moved on with their lives, because of her, I am not alone. She gives me a reason to get up in the morning. She is the reason I remember to eat, to live and be happy. I am so blessed. God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave her to me.”
I stood there listening to her and sobbing. Peg gave me HOPE! Hope that I can not only make it through being the mom to a special needs child but that God promises there will be a blessing on the other side.
Peg was exactly what my heart needed.
She was the example, the light in the darkness.
When I saw Peg and Michelle again, Stephen was with me. As he stood there listening to Peg tell her story, I phased out and was brought back to my conversation with Grandma when I begged her in tears to give me something to help my baby.
I don’t know if it was because I was with Peg or just God’s grace, but I was reminded of the rest of the conversation. While we stood there, I was so wrapped up in what Grandma didn’t give me; I missed the most important part.
It is with Grandma’s wisdom I want to conclude this story.
She said she didn’t know what to do about William except- Love him like God loves you because there is always Hope in Him.
In a way, Grandma again “spoke” to me from Heaven, proving how much she loved me.
When things are hard, Mamas, love your babies like your Father loves you, because there is always, always HOPE!