So it’s the last Monday of the year and I’ve got two words fattened full and painted bright: THANK YOU. Thank you for journeying with me here. And before a new sky breaks big and wide with wonder over 2015, I thought I’d share the year’s most popular post from this small corner of the internet.
. . .
For all the moms with special needs kids. And special kids with needs. And needy kids who don’t feel special. And stuff.
I see you.
I see you walk away from drop-offs that suck your strength. I see how you hope that he won’t lose his way through the day. Hope that she’ll make it through the maze of misunderstood. Hope that he won’t be diminished by the deflating confusion of being different.
I see you at the birthday parties when the conversation goes there. I feel the flush rush to your face as you swallow hard and pretend. I see the pharmacist informing you polite and professional that, ‘Um, I see your funds are depleted?’ I see you lying eyes wide in the dark. Tears slipping silent because you don’t want to wake them with your worry. Your desperate gut-twisting how-the-hell-can-this-be-happening worry.
I see your heart break.
And here’s what else I see.
I see that your beautiful kid is one in a million. Except that, there are seven billion people on this blue-green rock around the sun. So, although she’s a Never-Before-Never-Again edition of No-One-Else-Ever, if she’s one in a million? Then there are seven thousand other people a lot like her.
Which means –
Your child is not alone.
And neither are you.
Because if all moms everywhere were to lift the lid on their hearts? I would bet a week of sleep that you’d find some insecurities. And the mom who snubs you sweet and smug by telling you how her kids have never fought bedtime or refused green leafy things or suddenly needed to poo in the middle of a mall – she needs your love to cover her more than most. There are no perfect kids. No perfect families. Let the mercy that God has shown to you and yours spill full and free. Offer wisdom. Wetwipes. Compassion. Possibly caffeine. And ladles of grace. You have no idea how heavy and wholesome your kindness might land in the heart of a mom who thinks no one knows, no one sees.
But friend, you have to grip courage with white-knuckle fists –
Because here’s the hard truth every mama needs to stare brave in the face:
Your kid has special needs.
Yes, your kid who is pretty and sporty and sings in the choir. Your kid with low muscle tone and ADD. Your kid who captains the side and cruises through Algebra. Your kid who limps through days too long with no song in his bones. Your kid stamping chubby and heavy in a tutu amidst prancing flamingos. Your kid who laughs easy and free and hacksaws the violin. Your kid who can’t hear you come into the room. Your kid who stares from the stage and can’t see you waving wild.
Because your kid has your DNA. Your congenital sin defect.
Every one of us has a learning disability. Wisdom is shouting in the streets and we shush it. We do it our way.
Every one of us has a physical disability. We’re all terminal.
You and I and all our kids test positive for the sin that twists us spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially and psychologically. And screws up the world.
But here’s what I know about you, because you’re brave:
You will tell your kid that there is a Redeemer. You will say it and sing it on repeat – that Jesus is hope to the hopeless, peace to the restless. You will tell your kid that the ground at the foot of the cross is level, and that her journey into newness will take her to her own spacious acre of Kingdom to cultivate. You will recite and remind – that there is One who rejoices over her with singing.
You will do what it takes. You will let out the seams or put up the hems of school systems that, in all fairness and in all the realms of reasonable possibility, can’t tailor a unique educational outfit for everyone. You will have faith in the God who carves doors through walls of what-ifs and what-nows. You will teach your child the life skill of adapt – make a plan – solve the setback. Because I’ve heard it said wise and true: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall survive.
You will make home a refuge for the small tired soul who drags his bag and flops down sad at the end of some days. You will find ways to make things funny and fun. You will hunt for the wonder. Laugh crazy. Lick the baking bowl. You will live light and loud.
You will not worry too much about those who tut-tut judgment when you make the conscious choice to surf the waves of a tantrum when it would be easier – quicker – quieter – less embarrassing – to forfeit the teachable moment and calm the storm by giving in.
You will stop, drop and roll. Stop the frantic dizzying circles of stress. Drop down in prayer for wisdom and discernment. And roll with the punches – always leaning into the life-giving habits of consistency and congruency.
You will stop trying to be brave enough for the rest of your life. You will practise Pilates: breathe in – and with the strength of the exhale cast your burdens – make yourself brave – for just the next decision.
You will stick it on the bathroom mirror and let the words wash clean over you: ‘The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.’ (Deuteronomy 29:29).
You will remember that there is a God who sees your child’s heart and mind, chromosomes and concentration span, optic nerve and eardrums, sensory system and sensitive soul. He watched her form in the darkness. He equipped you to carry her then. And he will equip you to carry her now – until she can carry herself.
. . .
I’d so love you to start 2015 with a copy of Dragons and Dirt: The truth about changing the world – and the courage it requires. Get it on Amazon or Kalahari, or right here on dalenereyburn.com through PayPal or Postnet. Half the proceeds of every book sale will go towards Botshabelo’s Preschool Teacher Training Programme in Olievenhoutbosch and other under-resourced communities in Gauteng. Because really, we can change the world.
‘There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.’ (C.S. Lewis)
See you, God willing, all the Mondays of 2015.