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Embracing Joy, Releasing Expectations

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Embracing joy is a good concept for parenting in general, but it is a critical aspect of parenting a child with special needs.

Deuteronomy 16:15
Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.

Luke 18:16
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Embrace the joy. This is a good concept for parenting in general, but in my experience, it has been a critical aspect of parenting a child with special needs. There are many moments that may feel frustrating, but there are more that are simply joy-filled. Depending on the day or the hour, you may really need to be intentional about embracing the joy. But I encourage you that when it feels the hardest to do, just take that deep breath of peace. Take a second to recognize the blessing and honor of loving a special child, for you have been trusted in amazing ways with this opportunity.

In my mommying, I had to release the expectations of others. Other people’s expectations could suck my joy right out of me if I let it. Those developmental milestones that others may take for granted might not be ones that your kiddo meets at the times others expect. They may not meet some of those milestones at all. Instead of comparing and finding your family wanting, take note of the joy. I notice the kindness and compassion our child has toward others - the sparkling eyes and the gleeful smile. I even treasure the mispronounced words, knowing that one day after therapy and prayer move him forward, I will desperately miss hearing my admittedly mediocre cooking pronounced “de-wi-cious,” as a smiling, sugar-faced preschooler comes barrelling at me for a hug, so very proud of his hard-earned new vocabulary word.

I can’t even write that without my heart squeezing with gratitude and love, so I just had a “pause and savor” moment. I miss the joy sometimes because I get caught up in the mundane, such as the routine of therapy, meetings, and exercises. I miss the joy on days when I’m not feeling my best. But even as some moments seem to take years, these years are passing by in just moments.

And when I really recognize the incredible gift I’ve been given, I am just humbled that God chose me to parent this little soul. I am overwhelmed that I was gifted with the opportunity to explain Jesus, and heaven, and forever to this child who has brought such joy into my life and such growth into my parenting as well.

So today, I pray that you and I find the joy and hold it tight. Hold your child tight and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for the hard, and especially for the happy moments. 

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