Face it. We parents of children with special needs could be independently wealthy if we had a dollar for every silly remark we hear from others. Comments range from well-intentioned and misinformed to downright rude. But after any length of time, every parent raising a child with unique abilities will inevitably hear, “I don’t know how you do it!”
I’m never certain how to take that comment. Are you insulting my child’s behavior? Do you pity me for what you perceive to be my burdens in life? Do you think I’m saint-like or heroic? Or are you secretly saying, “Thank God it’s YOU who have that child with special needs and not me!”?
Whatever the case may be, I have a ready response for those words. I don’t do it. I can’t handle it. I am not strong enough or brave enough. God didn’t choose me to be the parents of my kids because I am any more remarkable, intelligent or patient than the next person. I also don’t press on with a stiff upper lip because I believe I’m paying the price for “karma” catching up to me.
The only thing I have going for me is a God who can handle it when I can’t. The same One who watched His only Son struggle, be rejected by others, suffer, and die is more than capable of handling anything I face with my child. If not for Him, I would never stop crying, never find hope, never find a purpose in all our family goes through.
If my family life were a reality TV show, the name of it should be “OUR HOT MESS”. It would reveal chaos, middle-of-the-night medical crises, disorganization, and continual adaptation because of unforeseen challenges encountered raising a child with special needs. Viewers would witness conflicted siblings, jealous of the attention received by the one with the diagnosis, yet worried about that one at the same time. They would also see the stress of juggling endless doctor and therapy appointments amidst the rest of the family’s obligations. The world would get a peek at our flood of bills inundating both table and counter top. And everyone would hear the continued volley of dark humor exchanged by our family in an attempt to normalize the craziness of our everyday lives. But woven into that not-so-average life, people would see our faith in an awesome God who carries us through.
Frankly, I don’t know how I do it either. I press on parenting these children because I have no other choice. I love them. What else would I do, but keep pushing forward? When I look back at the things we have come through, I see that it was that Rock, that faithful Father who got us through each and every time. When the worries of diagnosis or medical trauma confuse and upset us, the Truth always provides His discernment and clarity. When financial ruin and poverty threaten to strip us bare, Jehovah Jireh shows up with provision that we cannot explain. When we face a lack of cooperation with the school or the doctors, the enduring God of the Universe cares enough about little ol’ us and somehow manages the details.
My family and I are not anything remarkable. If He cares for us, He will care for you too. How do I do it? The same way you can do it – By fully relying on a good God who is big enough to handle any challenge, no matter how big or how small, on our behalf.