Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Those Special Needs Mom proud moments

It's late Sunday afternoon, and we've just arrived at a diner with a bunch of family. We weren't sure Max would be into it; he's only been to this restaurant once before and he tends to only like familiar food places, and ones that aren't too loud.

Everyone heads to the table except Max and Dave. We sit down and I watch the two of them through the window, strolling around the parking lot. I ask the waiter to find me a purple (obsession no. 1) crayon and a red one too. Then I call Dave on the cell. "Bring him inside, I'll meet you," I say, and head back to the entrance. Max stays with me there and Dave walks back to the table.

I stoop down and give him a big hug. "Max, there are purple crayons here!" I tell him. "Do you want to draw some pictures of spaghetti?" (obsession no. 2).

"ESSSSSSSS!!" ["YESSSSSSSSS!"] says Max, and he lets me lead him back to the table.

For a few minutes, we draw pictures of plates of purple spaghetti (and a swirl of red sauce) with the words "Max eats spaghetti sauce" written at top. Mostly, Max wants me to do the drawing; it's not easy for his hand to grasp the skinny crayon. Finally, he makes some squiggles, and gives me an "I did it!" glance of triumph. Then I sing him a couple of songs, tossing in the word "spaghetti" as much as possible, which cracks him up. "Old MacDonald had some spaghetti....." and "It's raining spaghetti!" (sung to the tune of "It's Raining Sunshine," as he's got a crush on iCarly). And then, a bowl of chocolate ice-cream (he had a late lunch, so he just wants dessert). Dave feeds him so I can down some food.

"I'm very impressed with Max," says my brother-in-law Lee. Yes. But actually, I am kind of impressed with me for keeping the calm.

For most of life, I'm too busy doing things—or too immersed in worries—to give myself props for mommy-ing Max. Actually, the same is true for mommy-ing Sabrina, who comes with her her own challenges (most of which involve a stubborn streak the size of Texas). But Max gives me a certain kind of parenting insecurity. Plenty of times, I'm just not convinced I'm doing the right thing or helping him as much as I can (and I suspect I am not alone here in feeling this way about my child). I swear, I'd like my tombstone to read "She did enough."

Every once in awhile, though, I feel really good about stuff I've done for him. Like when I've been able to keep him from freaking out, as I did at the diner. Or when I make him laugh really hard. Or when I teach him to articulate new words. Or when I coax him into doing something that's challenging, like climbing up the stairs without my holding onto him (but you bet I've got his back). These are the moments when my mom pride shines through.

Of course, I also love it when people tell me how handsome he is...and that he looks like me. He, he.

How about you: What moments give you mom pride, the ones where you think, yeah, I am doing a good job? Have you had one recently?

This is the third in a series of posts sponsored by P&G, for whom I'm covering The Special Olympics—they're a sponsor. "Like" their Thank You, Mom Facebook page and they'll donate $1 toward Special Olympic Team USA's journey to the World Summer Games in Athens.


  1. Nice blog - and you do look just like Max. Or I guess, he looks like you. As I read your blog, I could almost feel the tension build in my chest, as you made every attempt to keep him calm at the diner. Props to you and thanks for sharing.

  2. "She did enough!" That would be fabulous.

    It sounds like you managed him quite well, with teamwork and planning. And I understand what you're saying. You work really hard, you plan, and everything goes smoothly and "regular" so nobody notices, but when you lie in bed at night, you realize that it was the equivalent of winning a sports championship that you've been prepping for over months and years.

    Last year we took E. to the Israeli Day parade. We went the year before, and it was a nightmare. He didn't want to stand, there were too many people, it was hot... But we planned better, and he actually ended up enjoying it, not just tolerating. So he was easy to manage and happy.

  3. Way to go with the diner!!! That is something i am struggling right now with M.

    As far as a proud mom moment, I found out last week that M tested out of speech therapy! My husband and I have worked our bums off this past year, as has M, and his therapist, and I am soooo grateful. When he started speech therapy he had no words, no signs, and no recognition of anything. Now he is able to communicate. :-)

  4. Please show this to Max, if he hasn't already seen it.

  5. Between me, gramps, and grammy, we take turns praising each other--we've pretty much eliminated the "Insecurity Monster" because who the hell has time for that crap, anyway?

    I think your epitaph should be "She did MORE than enough, and she should stop worrying so much about it!"

    You know I just love that picture of you and Max--talk about perfection!

    Have you had a chance to give the purple foam earplugs a try? If so, how did that go?

  6. I think you are right - that most parents can relate to that insecure feeling of not (ever) doing enough. And if "regular" parents feel that? Then all parents of special needs kids doubly, triply feel it. I know I do.

    I even cringe when people praise my parenting of Jake and talk about all I do for him because all I can feel is all I'm not doing, the more I always want to do for him breathing down my neck like a monster, terrified that the one stone I've left unturned holds the magic key to helping my son be all he could be.

    Can I borrow your tombstone idea?

  7. Well said, as usual! I too love it when people tell me how beautiful my Max is and that he looks like me! We've had times like that where we managed to diffuse something and we look at each other and sigh in relief. It's a good feeling!

  8. I've been living in the "I'm not doing enough" and the "I'm doing everything wrong" land for so long that I don't remember the last time I thought I did a great job. Thanks for reminding me that I need to feel proud and know that I am doing enough.

  9. sounds like a great job to make dinner enjoyable for everyone - awesome :)

    my "proud mom" moments are usually around when my little one behaves well, or asks for something nicely, that sort of thing - or when she's really brave about something that she hasn't wanted to do. I love when she does that :)

  10. Funny - before I even read the post I looked at the picture and thought "Wow, Max looks just like Ellen!". I too love it when people tells me Malayna is a mini-me and that we're wonderful parents. I'm especially proud when I get a report of something great she's done in school to wow her teachers. You are a GREAT Mom to both Max and Sabrina!

  11. I found your blog while browsing around. Just wanted to tell you I enjoyed it so much! I'm pretty new to blogger so please stop by my blog anytime. I look forward to coming back for updates.

  12. What a good post. Just a thought, maybe you should also slip a couple of crayons into your purse or something- just in case you end up at a place that doesn't have any, or they're busy and have given them all out, etc. I used to work as a server at a family restaurant and sometimes when we didn't have enough crayons (they tend to disappear fast) it resulted in some unhappy kids (and parents!).

    And you should be proud of yourself- you seem to be an awesome mom to Max and Sabrina, and your blog is one of the best blogs out there. I check it every day :)

  13. I guess the moments for us right now are communication. He only recently started saying mommy, daddy and his sisters names. When he tells me what I'm going to say before I say it I just look and him and smile and sometimes just have to laugh. I just love when he talks to me right now. It just shows us that what we are doing is working!

  14. I was so proud of my little guy today, and you've helped me see that I should be at least a little proud of myself, too, for doing my part to support him. Thanks Ellen!

    Hooray! Malachi is doing That Annoying Thing That Jaden Does!

  15. Glad to hear about your kids' successes—and that you are taking some of the credit. GO US!

    Karen, Max HADN'T seen that adorable photo series! Thank you!

    Yes, Varda, you may borrow that "She did enough" epitaph. For a small fee.

    Welcome, Libby!

    And thank you, Rachael, for the compliment and the reminder to have crayons in my purse. I am not one of those moms who always has stuff in her purse. A lovely image on the tombstone might be a purse with a few crayons sticking out of it.

  16. Thank you for just coming up with what I want on my tombstone. SHE DID ENOUGH sums up this special needs Mum. Well done from someone else who "gets it"!


Thanks for sharing!

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