When a family friend proposed taking my Asperger/bipolar/ADHD/asthma/pediatric migraine son and my bipolar/ADD/asthma/pediatric migraine daughter to Just Fired Ceramic Studio on Second Avenue in Gallipolis, Ohio, I admit I questioned her sanity. I had visions of pottery and ceramics flying through the air causing property destruction I would be paying for into the next decade. My mistake lied in underestimating my friend’s judgment and the wonderful atmosphere of Just Fired Ceramic Studio which my children describe as “fun and calming” and somewhere they can’t wait to go back. The beautiful bowls they made sit proudly in our kitchen as a reminder of their social and behavioral victory.
It’s difficult as a special needs parent to think outside the carefully planned routines and rules that we have found work for our children. We often fear disaster if we change these carefully planned schedules. I will admit to having many failed days due to attempting a new field trip or play date. But 2013 has taught me that I can’t give up. Using good judgment, I have to occasionally challenge both myself and my children so that we don’t become static creatures in a predefined world of our own making. Equally complex is learning when to accept the suggestions of other special needs parents. I will admit that just because another person has a special needs child doesn’t mean they understand my personal challenges or those of my children. But at rare times, a unique friend enters your life and endeavors to truly understand you and your child out of true love. It is during these angelic moments that we as parents have to take that deep breath and let go, ever so gently to allow ourselves and our children to grow and blossom in new ways.
2013 was a valuable year in my life as a special needs parent. I’ve learned how to co-parent cooperatively through a painful divorce that still goes on, how to stand my ground against critics and even doctors and when to give my children much needed space and when to push them just the tiniest bit to challenge their preconceived boundaries of their talents. I’ve learned that I have to put my health first at times in order to ensure I’ll always be there for my children. Most importantly, I’ve learned that God is always there in the darkest of times beside you as you sob hysterically in the bottom of your closet so your children won’t hear.
2014 is going to be a year of greater patience, understanding, family time spent deep in our state’s beautiful parks hiking nature trails that calm my Asperger/ADHD/bipolar/asthma son, a greater openness to the willingness of others to help and more time spent in prayer than ever before about the urgent needs of our family like our failing car that is constantly leaking puddles of coolant, our broken freezer we need for wild meat due to my daughter’s food intolerances, and the fact we have one pre-owned aging laptop to share between the three of us while we homeschool. I’ve learned how to let go of the constant stress regarding worrying about the children’s constant medical, clothing, special diet, transportation and educational needs and allow it to be given to prayer. I also have found comfort in finally joining the company of down-to-earth special needs mothers like myself at a very simple monthly support group.
I’ve chosen to face 2014 with the firm conviction that I am a better parent for all that I’ve learned, including any mistakes made along the way. My children have in me the most dedicated and loving advocate they could ever be given. I hope you too will look to the new year with hope, joy and prayer that this often rocky journey is always full of hidden victories and unknown talents waiting to be discovered. In the darkest moments, we must hold our children tightly and keep looking for the light. Because in the end, we are the pilots of the most beautiful treasures who must be delivered with care to the future.
Jodi Hobbs is a soon-to-be-single mother and special needs mother, advocate and homeschooler of two who writes and blogs about the daily life and challenges faced by special needs/autistic families. You can find her Facebook page at: I did NOT sign-up for this Special Needs Parenting. Join her on Twitter @JhobbsSaunders. She can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org .