Thursday, February 04, 2010

Our Special Family

"God doesn't give children with special needs to strong people; He gives children with special needs to ordinary, weak people and then gives them strength. Raising a child with special needs doesn't TAKE a special family, it MAKES a special family."

The above saying made its way around Facebook this week and it got me to thinking, especially the last sentence.  A common statement by parents (myself included) of children with special needs is how blessed we are to have our special children. I am blessed to have Jack in my life because he is my child.  I am blessed because Jack lives.  However, I am not blessed because Jack has special needs. I would have been equally as blessed had Jack been born healthy.

Every child brings to a family his or her own unique beauty, gifts, lessons, hardships and joys. A child with special needs simply amplifies and accelerates the impact. Perhaps the unique “blessing” a child with special needs brings to a family is perspective. Perspective to appreciate a healthy child, a beautiful sunset, small victories and a full night’s sleep. Perspective to appreciate that all parents are blessed and all children make a special family. 

Admittedly, I’m particularly sensitive to the emphasis on the specialness of children with special needs because I have children who are sensitive to the emphasis on the specialness of their siblings with special needs.  I’ve been reprimanded on more than one occasion by my non-special needs children for not acknowledging often enough the specialness they too bring to our family.

Yes, I am blessed. 

I am blessed to have four children, who, in their own unique and special way, make our very special family.  


The Hogan family said...

Interestingly enough, I have been thinking some of the same thoughts. I will admitt that I am not in a good place right now regarding Keyan, but I don not feel blessed by her special a matter of fact, I am tired of hearing how "special" she is....she is alot of work, I am tired, and regardless that she touches so many lives some days I would give anything just to have all the "specialness" done with. I love her with all my heart but gosh, I am not to the point that I can be thankful for the blessing! Guess I need a little more time!!!

Ann said...

Hugs Stephanie. I don't think you (we) ever reach the point of being thankful for the special needs of our children. As you say, we love our children, but we don't love their disability - there is nothing special about it!

Melisande said...


Well said!!

You know, it's not even that I dislike disability, because it is who Donovan is and always will be, at least in part, but it is illness, powerlessness, death, pain, trauma...more than one person can bear at times. A parent's love cannot conquer even that at times and that doesn't make us wrong, but I think acknowledging that makes us stronger, and human.

Love you, Ann!

Katie said...

Thanks Ann. I really love to hear your words. They really make me think and look at my life. I sometimes forget that yes Samuel doesn't have special needs, but you are really so right he is special in his own way. I think that I sometimes get wrapped up in Mitchell's needs and life from day to day. So thank you. I myself really have been pondering that saying this week as well. I couldn't decide what I thought of it....still can't :)

worthy said...

All my children are special in their own way, and yes, sometimes I don't tell them enough how special they are! Having a child with special needs has, I believe, made me a better person.Of course, I'd rather he was just a regular kid, but he is just Sam and I love him as I love all my children.

Alicia said...

Hey Ann,

The part of the quote that resonated with me the most was the first part about not being stronger than anyone else. I have heard so many times "Oh goodness, you are so strong for being able to handle all that you do. I could never do what you do. God must have seen some extra strength in you for Him to send Marissa to you to care for." While that is a nice sentiment, and it is hard to know what to say to people like us, that has never set right with me. I don't believe I am stronger than anyone else and, on many days, I don't feel I am strong enough to handle all I have to. I have always told those people that I am no stronger than them, I just love my daughter with all my heart and would do anything for her, and I'm pretty sure they would do the same if they were in my position. It's not that God saw that I was stronger than another person and so He gave me Marissa. God gives me the strength to get through each day.

Here is my take on the last line of the quote: I would be the first in line to have Marissa's health issues erased from her if I could. It's not that I see my family as being blessed by Marissa's special needs. I too would have been equally blessed if Marissa had been born healthy. But Marissa being who she is, with all her "extra" stuff, has taught me lessons about life and living that I am not sure I would have learned any other way. I am the kind of person to become complacent in life, to take things for granted when life is going smoothly. Marissa has taught me to never take things for granted. Every day is a gift. That lesson, among others, is how Marissa's special needs have made my family special.

Ann said...

Alicia - thank you for sharing your take on this. It's always interesting and informative to hear another's perspective.

And, I think you are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Trust me, there are many people who could not do what you do every day for Marissa. You are an exceptional mom.

Gretch said...

I totally agree with Alicia!!
None of us like having children with special needs,,however I would NOT be the person I am IF Celia did not have special needs nor would my family be what they are IF she didn't have special needs! AND I DO believe that ALL of my family has been blessed by Celia have special needs BECAUSE with "typical" children there are not all the little and big life lessons. We take for granted and pay no real attention to the little things because it is all just a part of life. Having someone in your family that has special needs really makes you realize just how special ALL life is, when we all normally take it very much for granted that we breath without assistance,,we eat without issue,,we walk without effort.
Well I can go on and on but you get the jist of what I am trying to say!LOL

Krista said...

Hi Ann and other families -

Thanks so much for sharing this quote and this discussion. As new parents of a baby with special needs (new to parenting and new to special needs), it's really helpful to hear you share your experiences and philosophy on parenting very unique kids. As we tell friends and family about Lucas's diagnosis (myotubular myopathy), we too get so many reactions about how strong we are. Of course it comes from a place of such good intentions, but I agree that we're just doing the best we can, like anyone else would. It's hard to figure out how to say that to people who don't have kids with disabilities -- I wasn't different than you before my baby was born with a disease. A book that we've been reading that's been helpful is a collection of essays called "My Baby Rides the Short Bus." There, a number of parents grapple really honestly with this very question...

Thanks again for this post and this blog.

Mary Dolores said...

Hi Ann, thank you for your insights and for the reminder that ALL children are special! Yes, they are. God bless you and your family, always, md