When You Become a Parent

When you become a parent, you start to understand that the world around you is a completely different place than you previously thought. Your priorities, goals, and literal realities all change.

You think about and plan for baby’s first steps and words, the ups and downs of potty training, learning sports, teenage woes, driving, your kids finding lifelong partners, and eventually grandchildren.

It is the most beautiful part of life when you get to see the life you created, flourish. And regardless of how many children you have, you are rocked to your core, things are never the same.

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to become parents already in this life, know that your worldview becomes altered, you must adjust what you want and expect out of life.

When you become a special needs parent, after thinking “that will never be me”, you walk through an entryway where it takes you from merely adjusting your expectations to taking a Texas-sized ice cream scoop and emptying the entire carton to start fresh.

Like going through airport security; where you have to empty all your pockets, remove your belt and jewelry, and hope you got it all, except you never get those items back, and you have no choice but to alter course and move on to finding your terminal; I hope none of what you had to place in that gray bin was irreplaceable.

Everything becomes an unknown when you enter the special needs world, you stop dreaming about 20 years from now and pray fervently about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

Your life has a tectonic shift occur and you see it and feel it but cannot do anything to reverse it, slow it down, or budge it an inch. You become best friends with google and the nurse line at all your child’s health care offices.

Special needs parenting is prescriptions, years of sleepless nights, diet changes due to allergies or behavioral issues, skin problems, trouble with eyesight, not meeting developmental steps, staying up late to check on them when they finally are sleeping because you’re now worried they’re sleeping too much.

It is waiting on phone calls, living in your car most days going to and from appointments and therapy, it’s diagnosis; sometimes more than one.

Becoming my son’s mother molded me into a strong, independent woman who spoke her heart and mind without apology, for the first time in my life I had no choice but to be bigger than my fears.

When I had our daughter only two years later we had already been through skin problems linked to severe food allergies, worries about eyesight, some developmental delays, and we still hadn’t even seen the tip of the iceberg with our looking glass. But it was there in the not too far distance, waiting for us to plunge into it and try to avoid capsizing.

When you meet a special needs parent, no, when you witness a person being a special needs parent, you have this instant admiration for them and what they are doing in that moment. But when you are forced into the diagnosis infested waters and get a glimpse behind what previously appeared to be a shiny silk curtain, you see how brutal it can be. It’s bloody.

There is screaming, crying, discomfort, and endless fog so thick that at times you can’t see your own limbs let alone a light at the end of the tunnel. But all these symptoms are hidden well, we can tuck them neatly beneath the surface, because we are waged in a war of the heart, the spirit, the mind.

This is being in the throes of life, and man, you want someone next to you every morning and every night that is your anchor, because it is so easy to get lost at sea, that person who will grab your hand in the fog and pull you through the unbearable, even on the days you want to sit in the mud and let the war eat you alive.

My husband is my anchor and my life raft and my sunscreen and the wagon full of overloaded beach crap I packed because I have no idea how long this trip will last or what it will require. Then, not only is he all those things, he is the one carrying them all too.

He is the strong and silent type, so where I have cried enough tears to sink the Titanic and asked enough questions to form my own search engine, he has always just been here. You reach a point in your life, as a parent, as a spouse where the vows you said are words you cling to.

“For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till’ death do us part.” Those weren’t just about you and your better half, they were about your children, they were about loving the person your partner becomes in the darkest and hardest depths of life, and to say it isn’t for the faint of heart doesn’t even begin to explain it.

He has been here through panic attacks, denial, fear, confusion, and anger at a God who could put our child through trial after trial after trial. Most importantly, he is still here after the acceptance. 

If you would have told me nine years ago when boy met girl that our journey would contain so many unknowns, I still would have fallen for this man, if you would have said seven years ago on our wedding day that we would have these chapter’s in life, I would have been terrified.

I might have run away to avoid the heartache. I didn’t grasp at that time the magnitude of choosing a partner, but when I tell you how thankful I am for mine; I mean it with every ounce of my soul. It is beyond true how much becoming a parent changes you, your entire being, what you may not be prepared for is how much it can change your spouse as well.

I am the anxious, he is the calm.

I am the planner, he is the adventurer.

I am the “what if?” and “how do we?” and he is the “we got this”.

I will always be grateful for the man he is, but more importantly for the father he is to our babies.

Happy Father’s Day my love.

Written by, Jessica Dinkins

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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