It’s Mother’s Day. The kids run in to my room in the morning, holding treasures made from scratch, meticulously painted, and “wrapped” in a charming child-like way. I scoop them all up in to bed like a pile of puppies, and we snuggle and laugh together until my husband shoos them away and sets down breakfast, complete with bud vase, fresh coffee and my favorite cinnamon roll.
Oh wait. That’s not how it happens.
It’s actually more like this:
- Child One opens my door, crying because she wanted to make me coffee but she poured the coffee grounds where the water was supposed to go, causing her anxiety and bipolar irritability to go through the roof. The smell of smoke wafts in behind her.
- Child Two stomps in, yells at Child One for not accepting help when she was struggling with the coffee. And–even worse for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder–making the house smell, big time. She slams the door, runs to her room and wraps up in her blanket to find her happy place.
- Child Three emerges from her room, sleepy-eyed, nearly gets run over by Child One as she runs, yelling, to her room. Child Three snaps at Children One and Two for leaving her out of the plans, and for waking her up with all their yelling. She slams her door, and crawls back in to bed.
- Child Four, wearing nothing but a pull-up, brings an armful of unwrapped presents. She plops them on the bed, and grins as I hear my husband calling from the other room, “Has anyone seen Mommy’s presents??!”
- I pull the covers up over my head and pretend I am not, in fact, home. Even if it IS my “special day.”
Maybe I’m the only one with special family moments like this.
But maybe not.
Because, if we’re honest, as moms of kids with special needs, “special” has an entirely different connotation. And while much of our child’s special-ness is a gift, some of it makes high-expectation moments the low-light of our year… a source of grief instead of a celebration.
It can mean “special days” need to be muted, so our child with Autism doesn’t overload and melt down.
It can mean “special events” need to have back-up plans, or maybe even respite care set up for one of our kids.
And it often means “special moments” aren’t about us, even if it’s Mother’s Day, Christmas, or our own birthday.
So… what’s a mom to do this weekend, if our “special” kiddos don’t — or can’t — make us feel special?
- Remember we’re still special. God sees us. He’s smiling this big, huge grin over his girls who love their families with all we’ve got. He holds every tear, sees every struggle, and celebrates our joys more than we can imagine.
- Tell another mom how special she is. I make it a point to write a letter or card to at least one mom I know, telling her something I value about her, why she’s a good mom, and how I appreciate her friendship.
- If possible, make your own mom feel special. I make time around Mother’s Day to be with my mom one-on-one, just to let her know I’m grateful for her in my life, and for all she did for me as I grew up (and even now, too). If your mother isn’t alive, or the relationship doesn’t permit such an outing, spend time with a mentor or your spiritual mom instead.
- Plan special alternatives with friends who “get it” (a.k.a. other moms of kids with special needs). A few weeks ago, I let slip to a friend that Mother’s Day is kind of like Black Friday around here. After she recovered from the fit of laughter, she admitted it was the same for her. So we decided to get our families together at the beach this weekend, where she and I are planning to split off on a just-us-gals walk for part of the time.
- Write a list of all the ways your family is “good” special. The big wins the kids have had recently. The moments when you overcame something together. The spontaneous joyful moments from the past month. There’s so much good-special in our families, let’s make space to notice and celebrate it.
Especially if you find yourself hiding under the covers after a meltdown on Sunday.
Happy Mother’s Day!