Friday, June 27, 2014

Who will love her like I love her?

Before I knew her...
Some children need a little "extra love". Even before having two of my own, I have always gravitated towards those precious souls who "didn't fit in just right".  This desire led me to pursue my master's in special education.  While completing my degree, I found out I was pregnant with our first child.  Tears of joy filled my eyes as I showed my husband the pregnancy test.  We couldn't wait to meet this "being" that was equally mine, and equally his.  I remember one night as I laid in bed studying about all the different disabilities I would face as a teacher, I was prompted to tell God something.  It was nagging at my heart and so I shared it in a prayer, "God, I thank you for this pregnancy and for the health of the baby inside me.  I want you to know that I would be honored if you chose me to carry a child with special needs" Wait, what?! Did I mean that? I couldn't erase the thoughts from my head and it bothered me. After I prayed this prayer, I dug deep into my soul to try to grasp what I just secretly uttered.  It's almost as if God wrote these very words onto my heart, in that special way He does, to help prepare me for what was to forward 5 months, my sweet child was born premature with excess fluid around her forward 2 more years and I heard the sentence, the one I secretly feared but clearly always knew was coming, "your daughter has autism". God was preparing my heart before Bella existed, He was showing me how to love those who are different, those that need a bit of extra love.

Parenting A Child With a Disability...
Being the parent of a child with lifelong disability is challenging.   My daughter has made many behavioral and cognitive gains but she is still far behind her age. I must think 10 steps ahead for my sweet girl to help her "make it through" daily tasks.  I sleep less, clean more poop than you can imagine, bake special foods for a special diet, organize supplements, plan ways to attend outings so that we have an escape route, must travel to places in town taking the same turns or tantrums will ensue.  I shed tears of joy and sorrow in the same moments.  I am so proud and so frustrated all at once.  I often feel alone yet so bonded with others.  I ponder heavy thoughts as I fold laundry or wash dishes....Will she grow to understand she's different?  Will she ever grasp how much I love her?  Will she marry? Will she become independent? I watch my peers have children who thrive and develop while I secretly worry who will love her like I love her... when I die?  This is the reality of special needs.  I feel honored to have been chosen as her mother because I know God created her perfectly just the way she is! I love her even on her toughest days because she is a part of me.  I cherish her tears as she tantrums because I know it's hard for her.  But you know what? You know what's harder than being the parent of a child with a disability? Having a disability! I cannot feel sorry for myself because I look into my daughters glassy blue eyes and see how hard she works every day.  From 9-5:30 she attends various school, speech, OT, and behavioral therapies.  That is not easy, especially when those therapies are meant to stretch and grow her.  She is my hero!

Love her the way I lover her....
So what does all this have to do with you reader?  This goes out to everyone, not exclusively teachers, school administrators, church workers, therapists, or even.... the random lady at the restaurant? One question I ask myself daily (as her mother) as I leave her in the loving care of others or go out with her around town, "Will this person love her today, the way I love her?" Listen, I know we all love our children more than anyone could love anything, but believe me when I tell you MY child is special.  Her existence is a miracle.  Her life was created to bring God glory.  At at all costs, I will protect her from the unforeseen in the world.  When you feel annoyed that she is screaming and it's hurting your ears, that's the least of my heart is secretly breaking for her and I'm racking my brain thinking of ways to ease her pain.  Teachers, bless you.  You signed up for a difficult task teaching the youth of America.  I know you have a tough job with standards, parents, IEPs, (especially you special educators).  But, when you are tired....or have a "needy class"....please don't take it out on my child.  Yes, I KNOW her behaviors are tiresome and that sometimes she can be out of control, I live with her 24 hours a day.  I beg you to step into my shoes (better yet, into hers) and love her.  Remember that she works on her behaviors during and after school for hours.  Although she can't express it in words, she feels your negativity.

Love her.

This is not meant for anyone in particular.  I'm surrounded by teachers, therapists, church volunteers, friends, and family who all adore my child.  I am so thankful for these dear souls.  They give me the confidence to hand over what is most precious to me, a delicate flower....a rare gem, allowing me to trust, when everything inside me screams to doubt.  I want you to be "all in" with my child.  I want you to look forward to seeing her and even when she shows up frustrated--to keep smiling.  Your smile means so much to me and her.  It shows us that although she might give you a run for your money, you won't give up on her!

I strive to love my child, as Christ loved me.  It's the sacrificial love that 1 Corinthians 13 talks about:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails...


  1. Thank you for sharing this ongoing story of your beautiful beloved daughter. May His blessing and strength and joy be upon you. Love in Jesus, Virginia Rowzee

  2. Thanks for sharing your soul, Annie!

  3. So beautifully written, Annie!