Confidence in Parenthood with a Child with Disabilities

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Being a confident mother to a child with a disability didn’t always come natural to me.

Even though it may appear that way. On social media. Or if you see me sitting on the ground in Target next to my son while his hands dance as he takes it all in.

I may appear fearless. As I sit there, my back absorbing the stares. But often I feel out of control. Like I’m standing in a room spinning a dozen plates in the air. And praying that none fall.

And the plates are so fragile. A tiny human’s parts.
Am I confident? Honestly? I’m scared a lot. I’m scared of everything. Because the stakes are so high.

A life. A beautiful life.

It’s just hard to be fearless when you love something so much.

I question myself at every decision.

Sometimes I beat myself up thinking I haven’t done enough.

Sometimes I think I’m the worst mom for not doing more.

I used to spend far too much time being afraid. What if he has a meltdown in an aisle or if someone says something awful to us.

I let the ‘what if’s’ control me so strongly that they affected me regardless of if they happened or not.

What if I trust my gut and my gut is entirely wrong? What if he can’t do it?

But what if he can?

And I get it wrong sometimes. You will too. Because what we think is best may not be.

We’re dealing with people. Fragile. Strong. Misunderstood. Smart. Determined. Mysterious. People.

But in navigating the last almost 12 years blindly, I’ve learned that we are teaching our kids and the world around us more than if we were to get everything right.

Being scared and hiding gets us nowhere. And…

That it’s okay to try. And struggle. And try again.

We are showing the world differences. Autism. Disability. Special needs. And that these are not words to be feared. It’s a life. It’s a very real person who is living and learning. And a family who is trying so hard to be confident.

It’s being brave. It’s giving up and starting again. It’s trying one more thing.

And it’s seeing value in people.

So, I know I’m a good mama. Because the truth is, even on my my most challenging days, the ones where I have no confidence left, I know that no one will ever love or believe in my kid like I do.

No one.

And that gives me confidence. He gives me confidence.

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.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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