Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
By Cherie Faus-Smith
Saying goodbye to my son as he headed away to college was heartbreaking. I was losing my mini-me and I enjoyed spending time with him each and every day. We’re so much alike and it was tough for me knowing that I wouldn’t see him walk down the stairs in the morning, say goodbye to him as he left for school, or hear about his stories at dinner.
My first few weeks with an empty nest were uneasy and lonely. Preparing mentally for your child to leave the nest and start their journey at college can be filled with a lot of anxiety. They are venturing out on their own and, if you’re like me, this mama bear worried about his safety. The experience was heightened because he is our only child, which left my husband and I to find our new normal.
We’ve all heard the stories of couples ending their marriages because they couldn’t find common interests after their children flew the coop. Would we become a statistic? No! I was determined to pull myself (and us!) together. Instead, we worked on reconnecting with one another after he left for school.
As we spent more time together, we developed sort-of informal couple goals. My husband and I changed our diet and I began cooking healthier foods. We also began working out together and it felt good to be on the same page. Being able to go to bed when we wanted to without feeling guilty and watching our own TV shows without him complaining was amazing.
When I was finally comfortable with the fact that my son was gone, winter break began, and he was on his way home.My husband and I were excited to have him home for six weeks even though we knew our relationship would resume its spot in the backseat. We didn’t prepare ourselves, though, for our son’s own sense of newfound independence.
In the beginning, spending time with him was amazing but then we began butting heads. As a business owner who works from home and has daily deadlines, I found myself balancing client time and giving him attention as well. He loved coming into my office and chatting for HOURS. Even though I knew work needed to get done, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him he had to leave. After a week or so, my patience grew thin and I began lashing out at him.
Our uneven keel wasn’t only my son’s fault - we had both become accustomed to doing things our own way.After a few weeks of me raising my voice and him feeling left out, we had a heart-to-heart. I hadn’t taken into account how he was feeling about the changes. Once I began to see things from his point of view, and he from mine, we were able to get back on track.
My 5 tips on surviving those college years:
Our son has graduated from college with his Bachelor of Science Degree and has moved home to pursue his master’s degree. It’s been an adjustment all over again, but we have set boundaries and expectations on both sides of the playing field and we are enjoying our time together.
Because I have a passion for supporting women, I created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
I would love to hear your tips on surviving those college years or even if your adult children have moved back home.
Cherie Faus-Smith is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, & transformational coach focusing on women over 50. Her goal is to inspire women (like you!) to live life on their own terms. Cherie’s been a guest on Good Day PA and, most recently, was the keynote speaker at the YWCA's fashion show event to raise money for their Domestic Violence program.
She shares her experiences with surviving domestic abuse and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to inspire women to live life to the fullest, push their comfort zones, and thrive.
Find out more about Cherie on her website. Also, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
By Holly Miller
Mrs. Miller, will you be here after school for a while?” In my third year of teaching, one of my tougher students poked her head into my classroom at dismissal. “Yes Maria, what can I do for you?” I said smiling, hiding my own hesitation. Maria and I had a rocky start to the school year. She was defiant, cut class, and often didn’t have her work done. But I tried my best to give her a clean slate every day and be as patient as possible. She asked if she could get some help on the assignment we were working on in class earlier that day and I was pleased to see her actually putting in some effort so I happily obliged. She actually didn’t need a whole lot of help and it seemed like she just needed a place to work and have someone hold her accountable. Maria started coming by after school once a week for extra math help. After a while, she asked if she could come work on any work in my classroom, even if it wasn’t for my class. I had plenty of grading and lesson planning to do, so she came by a few times every week after school and we often chatted and worked, each accomplishing what we needed to do.
After these impromptu work sessions became the norm for us, Maria started to try in class, had her work done, dropped her ‘tough girl’ exterior with me, and stopping missing class. One afternoon, she shared with me that she couldn’t get work done at home. Her mom worked late hours and she was responsible for picking up her younger siblings, making dinner, and ensuring they did their homework. She couldn’t complete homework unless she found a quiet place to work directly after school for the one hour she had to wait for the elementary school to dismiss. After she completed her work in my room, she would walk to the elementary school and basically start a ‘second shift’ taking care of her siblings. Maria shared with me that she felt like no one really cared about her success and well-being and she was too busy helping with her family to worry about herself. But coming to my class after school focused her one hour into time to complete school work and decompress from her day. I saw Maria go from almost failing to an exemplary student. She went from being angry, combative, and evasive to focused, goal-oriented, and even polite. While I heard the old adage “students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”, Maria was my first encounter with how much truth there is in that saying. I tried my best to give her a place where she felt safe, supported, and loved.
I am a firm believer in the words of Rita Pierson, “Every child needs a champion.” If you have never heard her TED Talk, do yourself a favor and watch it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en
While I haven’t put in the 40 years into education that Rita has, I can affirm that in my 12 years in education and 4 years previous to that in early childhood education, this is true. I have seen first-hand students who are loved, supported, and have safe environments succeed while others who don’t have consistent support, have hard home lives, or simply feel like no one is looking out for them fail. The number one reason students succeed is love. Behind every successful student is at least one person who told them they could do it; one person who consistently was there for them. I have had the pleasure of being one of those people to many students, but I have also lost sleep and cried over students who I couldn’t reach. While I can’t be a champion for every child, I wake up every day trying to do so for as many as possible.
We all have young people in our lives. Our own children, nieces, nephews, friends’ children, or little ones at church or in our community. It is imperative that children know they are seen, that they are important to someone, that they are loved. You can be a champion for any child. There are studies done on non-parent mentors and the positive effects on children. (There is an excellent article about it in Psychology Today, found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moment-youth/201301/mentoring-youth-matters). As adults, whether you are formally responsible for children or not, we need to be there for the children in our lives and cheer them on. Have conversations. Check in with them. Get to know them. Ask what made them smile today. Ask what their favorite class is this school year. Ask who they sit with at lunch. Find out what makes them laugh. Do anything you can to show that you care. So many students slip through the cracks. I have mourned the suicides of too many of my students. I have felt the blow of students dropping out of school or being arrested and sent to alternative education. Raising successful young people is not a one-person job. All adults need to step up and champion children in their lives. Eventually, if there are enough people who do not give up on them, students will realize someone believes in them. There will be at least one person they can connect with and be inspired by. While many things go into student success, the greatest of these is love.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached email@example.com
By Donna Lund
The human brain fascinates me. The information stored in our memory bank is quite remarkable and the triggers that cause memories to be retrieved with such accuracy is even more amazing. I experienced one of those triggers the other day as I read in school news that kindergarten registration is coming up. I felt this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and my heart started to race a little. Kindergarten registration was an exciting time for my 2 girls thankfully. My boys on the other hand, not at all. The memories surrounding my boys starting kindergarten bring back to life the most traumatic school transitions we ever faced. Memories that still are as vivid as the actual events. Honestly, I'd give anything for them to just fade away.
When Donny was set to start kindergarten we did not know he was on the spectrum. We knew something was different certainly, but not exactly what. Nikki was thriving in a Catholic School but we knew Donny needed the resources of our public school district so we decided to uproot her and start both kids in our neighborhood elementary school. Family is everything to us and our kids needed to be in the same school. So during the spring of 2002, a few weeks after Cathy died, I enrolled our children in a new school for the upcoming school year. I remember so well entering the office of Baker Elementary School. I asked to talk to the principal who was retiring that year and I told him something was different about my son and he directed me to the guidance counselor. There I sat in her office. Exhausted, grief stricken and terrified. The tears began to flow as I told her about Donny, Nikki and the cancer ordeal that we had just lived through. I was so fragile during this time I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. As I left the building I saw moms talking and laughing and I thought to myself that this school truly is the beginning of a brand new life for me. I was now sister-less and in a few months I would learn I am an autism mom. I felt like I was being tormented and was yearning for inner peace. Everything I knew was gone.
Donny's orientation to kindergarten was even more fun! Not. As the new students were filling into the school with their moms Donny would not get out of the car. There were a few moms who I was friends with that saw me struggling and they tried to coax him out of he car, even the principal came out to our car but Donny was too stressed and overwhelmed to pull it together. These were the kinds of things Donny would do that made people misunderstand him. I'm not sure how it happened but finally we made it into the building. That's where the details get blurry.
What I do know and will never forget is how remarkable and special those years were for Donny and I. His teacher was so gifted and confident and seemed to make everything ok. She was responsible for Donny's encouraging development and for giving me a game plan for how to deal autism. Donny and I were both learning and adjusting and the fog that felt suffocating was beginning to lift. In many ways I was her student too. I never knew how much a teacher could mean to our family and how that special little school would become a cornerstone in my life. At the most fragile time in my life the staff at that school was exactly what I needed as I began a new life.
Brian's kindergarten registration was completely different than Donny's in that he was already diagnosed and he had attended a special needs preschool. His needs were much different but I was eager, actually excited for him to have the same excellent teacher Donny had. I wasn't adjusting to being a special needs mom anymore and I already knew the players. It was round 2 and I was much more prepared. Of course I was heartbroken, that goes without saying, but I was used to it by now. An autism mom was who I was and probably what defines me in our community. Amazing how times change. In 2002 I could hardly say the word autism without breaking down. 15 years later I'm writing about it and own an autism mom t-shirt! I guess we are all capable of adapting even when we think we can't reinforcing why our brains are so fascinating and powerful.
Sadly, Brian going to Baker for kindergarten was not in the cards. We were informed that he would not be attending the elementary school his siblings attended. We were crestfallen that Brian would not attend the school that felt like family to us and have the wonderful teacher Donny was blessed with. I definitely was not wanting to start over and put down roots in another school. Just as I was gaining some confidence the rug was pulled out from under me and I was back to square one. It was a devastating time but we were determined to adjust and put our best foot forward. Again, as it was when Donny started kindergarten, everything I knew was gone. I have absolutely no recollection of Brian's orientation day. I'm not even sure we went.
Moments are fleeting but memories are permanent. They are a very powerful thing. Some are joyous while others are very painful. I think we share our favorite memories so they do not fade away. That notion is probably why I mention my sister a lot. They keep us connected to the past whether we want to be connected or not. The memories that are stored in our brain; the good, the bad and the ugly create our story and are a reflection of our short time on this earth. They are reminders of what we have lived through and who touched our lives both positively and negatively. I'm grateful for all of them because it means I've had an array of experiences. No one ever said life was supposed to be easy or is promised anything and I'm happy and thankful for each day.
Happy 2020 my friends...….it's time to create some new memories and I wish you all the very best!!
Donna is a wife, mother of four, and loving advocate from Pittsburgh, PA. Both of her sons have ASD. Her contribution to the autism community in her early years focused on fundraising both at the national and local level. In 2011, the Lund family was featured in a documentary, The Family Next Door. The film’s mission was to illustrate the emotional impact of autism on families, and its influence has led to speaking engagements that focus on Donna’s message of compassion. She has been invited to speak at local universities with special education teachers as well as at high schools (including annually at Mt. Lebanon School District as part of their curriculum) to promote professional development. Donna was a speaker at the Robert Morris University Educational Conference and a guest panelist for Representative Dan Miller’s Disability Summit. In 2018, she launched her blog, Labeled to Lunderful. Most recently she was a coauthor for the book collaboration You Are Not Alone. Find out more at http://www.labeledtolunderful.com/
A couple days ago, my daughter and I did a Facebook Live and talked about many of the things that our family does for fun. We also discussed why it's important to be intentional about building and cultivating relationships within the family.
What does your family do for fun?
How do you cultivate relationships within your family?"
With recent news of school shootings and other disasters in our nation and around the world, as parents we need resources to help our children during these times. We want our children to not only cope with the sad news but also to continue to thrive as individuals. Here's a great resource from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Implement some of these strategies with your children and let us know how it goes!
Are you sick & tired of being sick & tired? “The Sick Mom’s Guide to Having Fun Again” will lead you through a journey of fun and laughter, so you can LIVE your life again, not just exist. Filled with 19 missions of fun, 100 fun things to do with the kids, even when you’re exhausted, and much more, the Sick Mom’s Guide will keep you smiling and help you rekindle your joy.
Check out what happened when Chou Gabikiny and Jen Hardy had a virtual meeting to talk about Jen's book and how to starting living beyond our diagnoses and enjoying life to the fullest.
The book is available TODAY! Grab it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0714H94MG?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660
Today is Father's Day and I want to celebrate with those who are celebrating. Happy Father’s Day to all the biological, adoptive, foster, and step fathers, as well anyone who is a father figure to others. Happy Father’s Day celebration to you, if today you are taking your father out for dinner or you are offering him a gift or just hanging out with him, maybe you are enjoying the day with family and reminiscing about your dad.
My heart also goes out to those who are hurting today. Maybe you have painful memories of your father. Perhaps your father is no longer living or your father may be physically and/or emotionally distant, this short message is for you.
If you are finding it hard to celebrate Father’s Day, may I encourage you? Before you were born, before you were placed in your mother's womb, before even anyone on earth knew who you will become, there was a God who fearfully and wonderfully created you and He loves you so much more than anyone on earth. His love is unconditional and His ways are perfect. So if you have no one to celebrate today, may I suggest that you celebrate his love for you? He's your heavenly Father who loves you no matter what. He's always been there and He will always be there. He promised not to leave you nor forsake you and His promises never fail.
Something else you can do today is to look around you, around your community, your church your place of work, and try to find those people who are there for you. Family is not always blood-related. I like the verse in Psalms 68 verse 6 that says that “God puts the lonely into families”. Perhaps your biological father is distant physically or emotionally or is no longer living, but has God blessed you with another family? Who can you celebrate today ? Maybe it's your neighbor, maybe your step-dad, maybe it’s a pastor, an uncle, a mentor, etc. I'm sure if you look around you'll find people who would welcome the opportunity to spend time with you. Maybe you have people who have already blessed your life in so many ways and today can be an opportunity for you to celebrate them.
Dealing with emotional wounds can be really difficult and it takes time to recover from them. So I'm not taking lightly the fact that today you might be grieving so hard that Father’s Day hurts. Please consider this : It’s in the deepest wounds that we found the most beautiful healing story. God promises to turn our ashes to beauty and I believe dealing with father wounds is no exception. Knowing that you are loved and that you have a Heavenly Father creates the foundation to seek out His perfect love and in the day-to-day life you might need specific strategies to recover from these emotional wounds that you carry and that's something that counseling can be help with.
How can our communities support those who are hurting on Father’s Day?
On Father's days, churches will often have arts and crafts for kids to do in Sunday School classes, like make a card for Dad. Most likely the preacher will be talking about fatherhood. Although those things are good in their own merits, they can become painful ways that people have to relive some of their hurts.
Maybe our communities can be more inclusive and ask kids to create a craft for not just dads, but also grandpas, uncles, brothers, older siblings, and any other male role models that are part of their lives. Maybe instead of just talking about fatherhood, the sermons can more inclusive as well and talk about all the men in our communities that take on those father roles and stand in the gap for so many. But of utmost importance, I hope that all the sermons point us to the Heavenly Father who is always there and always carries us through all of our painful experiences.
I leave you with this:
If Father’s Day hurts, our Heavenly Father's arms are always open and He puts the lonely into families. And in the multitude of counselors there’s safety and healing. So today celebrate your Heavenly Father and reach out to others who can help you recover from daddy wounds.
No matter your situation today, I hope that you find ways to enjoy this day that the Lord has made.
walking with you on your journey to emotional wellness
Hi everyone, this is Chou Gabikiny again. For those who do not know me, I'll reintroduce myself again. I'm Chou Gabikiny, the founder of Grace and Hope Consulting, and my organization provides training, consultations, and counseling to help people achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives.
Today I want to talk about person-centered practices in the home. Those of you who are familiar with what I do know that I'm a certified trainer for person-centered thinking. Often when people think about person-centered practices, they think about person-centered planning and how we use it to plan for services for people, but it's actually a way of thinking that looks at the individual, what's important to them and for them and being able to make the distinction and actually incorporating that into everyday life. So I'm just going to share a little bit about how I use person-centered practices in my home.
I have three children, they're all very unique, just as your children are, and they're all very different, just like any of the children out there...but knowing what's important to each of my children helps me parent them in a way that is more supportive to them. So I'll talk about my daughter for example.
My daughter does not like to be rushed, this can be true for all three of my kids, and it goes beyond just the feeling of being rushed. When she's rushed she gets very overwhelmed and then it becomes hard for her to actually plan her next step. Since I know that…that's who she is, that's something that she needs, then the way I parent her I give her extra time to complete tasks. That's just one way I use person-centered practicing in my home.
I have my son, Gabriel, the middle child, he does not like to be bossed around (to put it bluntly). He likes to have control over things, he likes to have control over what impacts him. So knowing that...again I'm the parent but I can power struggles with him forever or I can find a way to respect what's important to him and incorporate that into my parenting style.
So what does that look like? Instead of me telling Gabriel, "I need you to do this right now." I could do that, there are times where I get to a point where I say that, but what works best for my son is when I explain what's going on: "This is what we need to do...this is why we need to do it...and this is how you can help us do it." By doing that I just gave him the power to actually be part of this end goal that the family has, and he feels empowered to contribute. When I’m asking him to do something I'm not just bossing him because
I'm the mom, but I am actually helping him to make those decisions, make those choices so he can be part of something bigger and do something to help the entire family. He loves that, and it works!
My younger one, he has sensory issues. In another video I did, I talked a little bit about it. Because I know he has sensory issues, then I address those needs because it's important to him that things are done a certain way. Instead of just doing whatever I want, whatever will work for me as a parent, what will make my life easier, I kind of turn it around and do what will make life easier for my child. And that doesn't mean I'm going to enable every behavior out there, no; but it actually helps me prevent behavior by including what's important to him.
The focus of Person-Centered Thinking is finding that balance between what's important to someone versus what's important for someone. When we think about what's important for someone, we're focusing on health and safety: people taking their medication, people living in a safe environment, people being somewhere where they're not abused, so we think about those things. Health and safety are the main components of what's important “for” someone.
By the way, the best for people is going beyond that. I can be safe and healthy but be miserable. I can be safe and healthy and be bored, that's not fun for anybody. So person-centered thinking actually incorporates this added value to people's lives that is what's important “to” someone, what makes them tick in a good way, what are the things that make them smile, what are the things that bring joy to them, what are the things that actually make a whole lot of difference in their life, like the things that they like to do. It can be that they like their coffee cold, maybe they like it with two cups of sugar, might not be healthy, but again, it's finding that balance. Supporting people in a way that incorporates what's important to them help them have meaningful lives.
If you're just providing health and safety, people will be miserable and then you get more behavior, now you might get more attention. Then you're not meeting your outcome goals. You're not meeting your goals because people are just not happy. All of us want to live a life that's free from constraints whatever that be, we don’t like somebody to have control over us.
When we incorporate what's important to someone it actually helps to give people power, instead of serving people or supporting them in a way where we have power over them. When we use person-centered practices, we're actually having power with them because we're incorporating what's important to them so they can have meaningful lives. We’re showing them that we value what's important to them, we value what they want, and we do our best to make that happen. And that doesn't mean that we have to fake it. No, if we cannot do it right, find someone who can do it right, but it is important for all of us to do it.
This thing is just not for people with disabilities, it's not just for people who need extra help per se, this goes for all of us. Person-Centered Thinking practices are for all people regardless of age, regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of your background or your ability level, your function level, it doesn't matter. We all want better lives, we all want meaningful lives, we all want lives that make us happy so that's why we must practice Person-Centered thinking.
If your agency can benefit from this strategy if you can benefit from it… Honestly as a parent, my goodness, just learning about those tools myself made a lot of difference in how I parent my children. It made a lot of difference in how I even treat myself.
The Person-Centered Thinking training is usually two full days. I can break it down into four half days. Through this training, you learn to gather information about the person and find meaningful information that you can use to help them have better lives.
We look at tools like important to and important for. In trying to make that distinction and incorporating that throughout all the other tools that you learn for the training. We also look at other tools like the morning routine...what are those things that make for a good day for someone. We do what's working, what's not working, so looking at certain situations and it becomes a good decision-making tool.
This one, for example, I just had to use it recently when I needed extra care for my child and we tried a setting and we had all these little things that just did not work and made it more stressful for me and more overwhelming for my child. I had to sit down and use that tool (the What’s working and What’s not working).
Once you get comfortable with these tools and you actually get to the point where you're not using it like on paper all the time, it becomes this thinking process; cause before you plan you have to think. And if you start thinking in a way that's person-centered, then your planning, your actions, your treatment plans, become person-centered. So again, that training is really useful for all of us.
I just shared a few examples, of how I changed the way I parent to be a more person-centered parent... but you can use this for an agency. You can use that at home, in society. All of us can benefit from Person-Centered Thinking training. So if you need it, want to find out more about it, please contact me. I'll be glad to share information and set time to talk with you.
Alright, thank you. Remember everybody's meaningful, everybody's important and everybody wants a better life. Be the person that allows others to have the best life that they want for themselves. And that's why I teach person-centered thinking.
Happy Mother's Day!
Hello everyone, this is Chou Gabikiny. For those of you that don't know me, I'm the founder of Grace and Hope Consulting. I'm a board-certified Christian counselor and a certified cognitive behavior therapist. Today I just wanted to wish all the moms out there happy Mother's Day!
Today is one of my favorite days because not only I get to encourage all the mothers, but it's a special day that my kids remind me that they appreciate having me as a mother. They're young so they do things maybe a little differently but even the smallest thing touches my heart.
Today I just want to encourage the mother, the one who's doing it all, and maybe you are doing it alone and it is hard, and it is stressful. It is overwhelming. I just want you to remember that what you're doing… it is an investment and there is going to be a return on this investment. It might be hard today but just wait and see. I know I talk a lot about long-term because I want you to plan for the future, brighter future, so yes in the moment it might be stressful but remember your kids need you and you are building the next generation of brave people, brave women and men, and responsible people who will contribute to society and make a big difference in the world, so stay encouraged.
Also, try to cherish this moment. Try to cherish the moment that you have right now with your children, they grow up so fast. My oldest just turned 11 like a month ago and I can still remember the day I brought her home. I remember when she was just born. Oh my goodness, I was a first-time mom and in a foreign country and I was alone and saying that I felt overwhelmed would be an understatement, right?
Again, cherish that moment, they grow up so fast, and those little things they do today might be annoying but looking back those are the things that make life a little more colorful. So enjoy your kids today, enjoy your family today and remember that what you're doing is making an impact in the long run, that you are the one taking care of and building that next generation of women, men, of people bringing change to this world. Stay encouraged. Keep at it. Stay the course. keep up the good work and know that you are valued. Yes, you are valued. What you do, no one can do what you do.
I read a while back somewhere about...I can't remember, I'll paraphrase it, I don't remember exactly how it was written but something to the extent of “God knew that you could do such a wonderful job that's why He gave you the kids that you have”.
I'm going to speak now to mothers of kids with special needs. The journey is long, it's tiresome. All the doctors’ appointments, all the therapy appointments, the sleepless nights and all the people you have to coordinate, the care that you have to coordinate day in and day out. It is hard but God knew that you are able to do it, that you are stronger than what you thought, and He will never give us more than we can handle.
Sometimes we might feel like "we cannot handle it anymore," but there's more strength in us. I can make a whole two-hour video about the strength that I discovered in myself when I started taking care of my children. I learned that I had more patience than I thought I did. I had more strength than I thought I did. I was more organized than I thought I was just because again, through those times of need came those skills. It was by necessity that I discovered who I am and what I’m good at. I had to become that person in order to provide the care that I provide to my own children right now. But through that process it made me who I am today, it made me this...I can go on and on, but I learned to advocate because I had kids who need someone to advocate for them. I learned to navigate systems of care because I had kids who needed someone to navigate the system for them, and I became a parent that was living more in the moment because I needed to live in the moment and enjoy even the smallest milestones.
I remember with one of my sons, he was maybe nine months by the time he could sit. He had a physical disability at birth and when he started sitting I made a big deal out of it. Many people didn’t understand why I made such a big deal about my son sitting up. Perhaps they didn’t realize how hard we've worked for this, how many therapy sessions we had just to get to this point right, and the frustration itself when you're trying to make everything fit in the calendar and get everybody's needs met.
Again, on this Mother's Day, please know that you are special; that what you do is very worthwhile. Nobody can do what you do and that your children see it. God sees it, and that you are irreplaceable.
Keep up the good work and enjoy your day. Maybe nobody will give you flowers, buy flowers for yourself, I do that. It's like if you can’t always wait for someone to do that for you. If your kids are young like mine, they can't do much but maybe they might do a drawing for you, and that's great; maybe what you wanted was chocolate and flowers, or it was a treatment at the spa. Whatever it is that you think you need in order to celebrate Mother's Day, do it for yourself. Don't always wait for other people to do it for you, especially when there's nobody else around to do it. When you learn to recognize that what you do is enough and that you are enough, you start treating yourself accordingly, and the way you treat yourself tells people how to treat you. So happy Mother's Day!
Alright, stay encouraged gals!
Birthdays are usually times of celebration. We celebrate the fact that one more year was added to a person’s life. For parents of kids with special healthcare needs, birthdays take on a deeper meaning. Each new day is a blessing. Every milestone, even the smallest one, is a HUGE deal. A birthday is not just a birthday. It’s a time we reflect on how far we’ve come and how much we have grown, and that’s not just in days and numbers. For special needs children, birthdays are not about adding one more year to life but adding more life to their years.
Perhaps you are sitting in the ICU or in another hospital room on your child’s birthday. Maybe your child is experiencing a setback. No matter the circumstances, I encourage you to find at least one thing to CELEBRATE. Celebrate even the smallest achievement. Celebrate the one medication that was discontinued. Celebrate that you found a doctor or therapist who is meeting your child’s needs. Celebrate the fact you are reading this right now and being inspired to celebrate.
YOUR CHILD’S BIRTHDAY IS ALSO YOUR CELEBRATION. You have labored all these years. The sleepless nights, the hospital visits, the hundreds of miles driven, all the therapy hours, and all the other sacrifices you made were all worth it. Your child celebrates another birthday because there was a mighty parent standing beside him or her each step of the way. So, don’t just pat yourself on the back but truly celebrate all that YOU have done to make this birthday possible. YOU ROCK, dear warrior parent!
It can be both therapeutic and memorable to make a birthday keepsake. Maybe it’s a poem you write, or a picture you draw, or an item you save that remind you of all that you and your child overcame that year. You never know when that keepsake will become your saving grace.
I usually write a Facebook post on my children’s birthdays to praise God for helping us through another year and to celebrate a milestone we reached that year. Below is my post from yesterday morning…
Happy 3rd birthday to my miracle child! 3 years ago today, unto me a son was born. He didn't have dominion on his shoulders and didn't carry healing on his wings but his amazing life quickly pointed us all to the One who does and did. He who is sovereign proved every day that my son's life is in His hands and that He rules over any sickness. He brought healing to my son in so many ways. My son still has many diagnoses and lot of medical appointments, but the gift of life is evidence enough of how he's been healed. Thank you, Jesus, for making more birthdays possible!
My dear Daniel, every year I cry on your birthday. I cry because I'm happy. I cry because I'm thankful. I cry because you're proof that miracles happen every day! Today we celebrate the fact that you were not admitted in the hospital at all this year and that you haven't been in the ER in the past 6 months!!! (You've come a long way baby). Although we added 2 new diagnoses to the list, this year was still your healthiest. As new doctors, nurses, therapists and other providers entered our circle of support, we are reminded that God is always with us and sends help in times of need. Thank you, Daniel, for pointing us to Emmanuel!
My dear friend, on your child’s next birthday, celebrate all that your child has accomplished that year AND your efforts in helping your child grow.
Happy birthday to all our December babies and kudos to their devoted parents for the amazing job they do!
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org