Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The thanks I owe my child with special needs

As I've been thinking about stuff I have to be thankful for (and visions of stuffing dance in my head), it's occurred to me how much gratitude I owe Max. This hasn't always been the case: During the first Thanksgiving of his life, I wasn't feeling the thanks. Mostly, I was anxious about his future, despondent that something had happened to him, and feeling sorry for all of us.

It's eight Thanksgivings later. Above all, I am thankful for how far Max has come—and the progress he continues to make. And though I will probably never feel an effusive rush of appreciation for doctor office waits, IEP meetings, medication monitoring or sensory-overload meltdowns, I am grateful for the many ways this child has changed my world.

And so, my little love:

* Thank you for helping me understand that kids and people with special needs are, in so many ways, just like anyone else. I would have never known that if it weren't for you.
* Thank you for showing me what real determination is. You may have cerebral palsy, but you can leap tall buildings in a single bound in your mind.
* Thank you for giving me extreme appreciation of things I'd previously taken for granted. Before you came along, I'd never marveled over legs that walk or lips that talk. Now I'm well aware of the intricate movements a body has to do to make them happen, and I am grateful for them.
* Thank you for that great, big smile that lifts me up on my most down days.
* Thank you for not programming your iPad speech app to say "Your butt looks big in those jeans."
* Thank you for redefining my idea of "achievement." It's not just about reaching the end goal; it is each and every little score along the way.
* Thank you for teaching me how to be uber-uber-uber-assertive. OK, I was no pansy before I had you but now, watch out! Doctor doesn't have an available appointment for twenty years? Insurance company not paying the bill? Yeah, we'll see about that.
* Thank you for the perspective on what really matters in this world.


Your mommy
Thanksgiving 2011


  1. I love that you stopped to reflect on what Max has taught you. It's amazing what we can learn from those sweet little faces. Pictures of Max make me smile every time. What a beautiful soul shines through!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to write this beautiful post! It's just what I needed to read this morning as I continue to struggle with raising a child with severe needs. Thank you for illuminating the bright side of mothering in this situation....oooohhh boy....I needed that :) Have a very HAPPY Thanksgiving! xoxo

  3. And thank you for sharing Max's story (and Max for allowing us into his life). Happy thanksgiving!

  4. This is a keeper, Ellen. Very sweet.

    And thanks for sharing Max with us.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Seriously! Could your boy be any more adorable!

  6. Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for your blog... I just found it!!!! Love your realness!!!!!!
    I am have two boys one 11 one 4 tommoroww. The 4 y.o. Jaime has downs syndrome... So much to be thankful for...any way I was wondering if you could list some starting apps for your I am on the cusp of taking the plunge and getting one... also which one do you have and which one do you wish you had??? Thanks!!!!
    liz Tree

  7. It's great that you're taking time out to be grateful for what Max has taught you we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in South Africa but I do keep a gratitude journal check it out

  8. I loved reading this. It touches so close to home in my heart as well. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you guys have an amazing one:)

  9. Very well said, Ellen ... as always. A reminder for all of us! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your wonderful family.

  10. This was so beautiful - thank you for sharing this. I was especially moved by -

    "Before you came along, I'd never marveled over legs that walk or lips that talk. Now I'm well aware of the intricate movements a body has to do to make them happen, and I am grateful for them."

    These every day things, that so many take for granted mean the world to us.

  11. You know, when you meet someone who gets it and you could sit down and talk to them forever?

    Yeah, that, here...every time.

    I love you, E.

  12. This one made my eyes water! Your love and appreciation for your son's true self is so heartwarming. He looks so happy!

    I'm new to you...though I've read a lot. Thanks for sharing your story and filling all of us with warmth and inspiration!

    My son suffered a stroke on his first day of life. He is now 7 months and doing great. We're lucky...I'm an OT.

    It took me 6 months to brave sharing my story, which was only possible because of mothers like you paving the way. Thank you!

  13. So wonderful! So beautiful! I don't even know Max, but I am also thankful for him!

  14. I really liked this post :) I've been feeling mighty thankful myself, and got to witness a really cool moment at Maya's preschool yesterday. I wrote about it in my Thanksgiving post, argumentatively titled "We are more thankful than you are" about the difference between the thankfulness of parents of kids with special needs & parents of "typical" kids.

    No thankfulness is really "better", but ours is certainly different.

  15. Thanks, Max, for giving your Mom a reason to write and share with the rest of us.


  16. Hope you don't mind my sharing this. I love your take on life! So similar to mine but you write out what is even hard for me to find the right words to SAY sometimes. Thank you and happy Thanksgiving to your family!

  17. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And thank all of you for sharing your stories. As the mother of a son with Down syndrome who is 55 years old, I am so blessed with his presence in my life, with his longer-than-expected lifespan and for the many gifts he has given me, his siblings, and a host of people we don't even know.

  18. great post, and so true. i am thankful for so many things, all because i have a child with special needs! feeling the 'thanks'!

  19. Awesome post, Ellen! Frame-worthy. Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanks for sharing!

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