How My Friend With a Child With Special Needs Inspires Me to Be a Better Mom

Dear Friend,

When you were pregnant with your second baby, you knew something was different. You worried as the weeks passed, waiting for that phone call from your doctor. Finally, the day came, which also happened to be your birthday. You called me after you hung up with him. He told you of your daughter's diagnosis, the specifics, and the next steps. Your voice stretched and quivered like a pulled rubber band, but it never broke. Hiding your emotions has never been something you're very good at. I've always envied that.

But the second after you told me what the doctor said, your voice steadied. You didn't feel sorry for yourself for one minute. And why should you? You're a mother, and you did what ever mother does when she's knocked off her feet for a second — you got back up and carried on. You were having a baby — a beautiful baby — and while your idea of what motherhood should look like may have shifted in that moment, it never became less than what it originally was. You never saw your child as a burden, because she isn't one. And every day since that phone call, you've proven to be one of the strongest women I know.

Some may think the load you carry as a mom is heavier. I used to be one of those people.

I don't have a special needs child, so while I can't relate to exactly what you're going through, I do know we're both mothers, and every single mother on the planet faces her own struggles. That is something we all understand. All we can do is be there for each other, because no matter how different each family looks, we're all in this together. And since you're my close teammate, you've taught me so much about patience, and constantly remind me that the little things in life should always be celebrated.

Every week, you drive your daughter to and from physical and occupational therapy. Whenever we chat while you're driving home from that 20-minute commute, you excitedly talk about your daughter's new triumphs. "She started eating solid food today, and she did great!" or "She pulled herself up! I started crying, but they were happy tears!"

I still remember the moment I saw it for myself. Her feet scooted across the floor while she held onto the couch with her hands; her blond curls swayed as she took those steps. "Yay!" we cheered, "You did it!" And she looked up to you, her mother, and her eyes grew wide with adoration. She can feel the fact that you're her biggest supporter — every day, every hour, and every minute of her life. She looked back at me and gave me a smirk that said, "I have the best mom in the entire world." And she's right.

You remind me every single day to just be more understanding of all mothers, no matter what they're going through. You make me want to be a gentler mother, and I'm sure I inspire you to give a bit of tough love to your kids (my no-TV rules are set in stone, people). Some may think the load you carry as a mom is heavier. I used to be one of those people. Strangers (many of whom are mothers) can be so quick to judge or have pity on people that don't need it or want it. You have such a loving family, and you're role as mom is one that you were born to play. The joy your daughter brings to your family is exactly what you pictured it would be, even when you called me with a shaky voice on your birthday those years ago. You were scared of the unknown, but the unknown turned out to be perfect. From one mom to another, let's keep helping each other carry on.


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