Strength, that persistent ability to withstand, that willful exertion to lift, and that tenacious determination to be and do, can occasionally allude parents of children with special needs.
For some, that moment an unborn child’s diagnosis is given, for others, that moment a battery of tests unveils results once uncertain yet now confirmed, take one’s bath away. And for most, those hours, days, weeks, and years of doctors’ appointments, physical, speech, and occupational therapy sessions, IEP meetings, feeding tube and cannula changes, surgeries, and tirelessly watching to be sure our kids are safe, careful, and yet, given every conceivable opportunity to live a quality of life due us all, can wear the fabric of strength to shreds.
So, how do we do it? Where does our strength come from? We discover that we are stronger than we thought because being strong is simply the only option of fortitude we possess to accomplish all that is present in our lives. We find it in our child’s presence, so wonderfully present where that option of strength is fortified with joy the likes of which many parents of “normal” children take for granted. It’s the joy of our child achieving what “experts” declared they would not. The pleasant song of our child speaking and conveying their thoughts in sign language when, at one time, we were the only person who understood them and so on . . . That joy comes from purposeful perspective and it comes from an even more glorious place.
You see, our strength is found as we withstand the naysayers, the unbelievers, the bullies, is discovered as we lift our children through school and other agency systems and into society in general to become welcome members of our communities, and our strength is expressed by our being not only parents but also advocates for our kids and each other and doing what we must to constructively pave the broken roads of discrimination to arrive at a place of sincere acceptance for our kids, an embracing of differences, where our kids are no longer marginalized or isolated members of society but are recognized and valued as people first . . . for they too are God’s Children, God does not make mistakes, and this Joy, the Joy of the Lord, is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).