During this time of year, our thoughts and hearts turn toward gratitude. I was very grateful and honored when “Lucy” asked me if I’d like to guest post. We have several things in common: We love to laugh, we love God, and we know what it is like to have a special needs child.
I never thought I’d give birth to a child. After years of infertility, several surgeries, and a miscarriage, Sarah was born as I turned forty. She was seven weeks premature weighing 3 lbs. 6 oz. Sarah is developmentally delayed and has a seizure disorder – yet she is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
I had a dream before I knew I was pregnant. In the dream I saw a baby with a tiny tuft of hair on her head. A few weeks later, I decided to take a home pregnancy test. My husband and I were amazed that it tested positive. After Sarah was born, I realized that she was the baby in my dream. My Heavenly Father was letting me know that I was pregnant and a gift was on the way.
I used to ask these questions about Sarah’s disabilities. For those of you who know people with seizures disorders, you know that often there is no known reason as to the cause – and there is no cure. Many people are helped with medication. Sarah was not helped with numerous medicines, but seems to be doing better now that she has a Vagus Nerve Stimulator.
Sarah is now twenty-one. I don’t wonder “Why?” anymore. I am just thankful for Sarah. These are the gifts my daughter has given me: Hugs, kisses, numerous trips to zoos, many zoo train rides, swimming even though I don’t look great in a suit, swinging in the park as a senior citizen, pausing to appreciate simple things in life like homemade waffles, decorating cookies, reading scriptures together, going to bed early not worrying where she is or what she is doing, hearing “I love you” every night after we say our prayers, sliding down a water park slide, wearing Halloween costumes, meeting other moms of special needs people forming a support group of friendship, years of learning about animals, too many pets to count, puzzles, achieving dreams (becoming a teacher and writing a book), working in the church nursery alongside Sarah, patience, devotion, empathy, and compassion.
Sarah can’t think of a thing she wants for Christmas. Dan and I can’t either. We’ll decorate the tree together and enjoy spending time looking at it. Dan will put his train under the tree for the grandchildren to enjoy. There will be gifts for the grandchildren – and for Sarah since she is “forever young.” We’ll bake my mother’s Christmas cookie recipe. It takes three of us. I make the dough, Dan rolls out the dough, and Sarah cuts and decorates the cookies. It is our family tradition. We’ll spread them around to neighbors and friends. I don’t want, or need, any gifts. I already have mine.
Susan has a chapter titled “The Special Education Experience” in her book Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty-Treats for Teachers and Parents. You can visit Susan on her blog for ideas on helping preschoolers, kindergarteners, and special needs children at Kindergarten for Teachers and Parents.
Susan has generously offered one Lucky Lucy a copy of her book, it’ll bring you insight to the child’s mind special needs or not…aren’t they all special? I can’t think of a more heartfelt gift to the parent or new parent in your life.