I don’t buy into the concept that “special kids come only to special parents.” I don’t really look at myself as being different from any other parent out there. I think I just happened to have been blessed with a child with unique needs. But it’s not because I’m special or Super Dad or anything like that.
I do, however, believe that being a parent of a child with a disability has made me into a better person—a tougher person. I think being a parent to my child has made me develop a sense of unbreakable resilience. The dictionary defines “resilience” as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness”… and man, do I have the ability to do that.
This week was particularly tough.
We all know how difficult it is to find daycare for a child with a disability, and about two months ago-after months of searching, we finally found a place that we thought could take our child and give him the extra little bit of care he needs.
This week we found out that the owner gave away the spot we had reserved. We were absolutely crushed. We were back at square one in trying to find after-school care for our son—an almost impossible task.
It’d be untruthful if I said that we didn’t cry. I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t get frustrated and downright angry. But I’d also be lying if I said that we didn’t rebound quickly.
After a day or so of frustration, we got to work on a Plan B and set out to figure out the solution to this problem. There was no time to dwell or be upset. In the end, that’s not productive. We needed to be productive. We haven’t figured it out yet, but I know that we will.
And I think that is what we as parents do well. I think we are so used to “problems” arising, whether it is insurance or doctor’s appointments or IEP meetings or whatever, that we are constantly thinking. We’re constantly doing. We’re always trying to find answers, to figure things out, and to make things better because 1) we’re used to them going wrong and 2) we know how to handle ourselves when things do go wrong. Is that a skill set we were born with? I don’t necessarily think so, but it is one we develop over time and it’s something that we get really good at.
So no, I don’t think I was a special parent before my son was born. However, I think that I’ve developed special skills. I’ve developed one heckuva backbone. I’ve developed a thick skin and the ability to keep my panicking to a minimum.
I reflect and think about how lucky I am to have developed those skills. I don’t know that I would have otherwise. So like I said, I wasn’t a special parent before my son was born.
But I darn sure am one now. And so are you.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.