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 writes about disAbilities, mental health, parenting special needs children, faith and everyday life.