Thank you to Claire Cook for this fantastic blog on “Love in a Special World”.
It’s February, so cupid will be busy. Love as a parent isn’t just fluffy gorgeousness though. Love as a parent takes on a whole new role, and when you throw a child with additional needs into the mix, then well – for me, love also includes grit, determination, tolerance, resilience, exhaustion, sadness & hurt, to name a few.
Becoming a parent opens your eyes and heart to a whole new level of love and the corresponding levels of hope and fear. All of a sudden these already important and strong emotions have a magnifying glass on top of them. A magnifying glass that will never leave!
Managing the emotions can be exhausting, pulling at our heart strings and occupying our minds. On the flip side though – having such enhanced emotions is exhilarating, fulfilling and heart-warming.
There are 3 little ones in our house, but our middle child, a 6 year old girl called Isla has brought about new and off the scale emotions in all of us. I’ve said before that parenting a special need’s child is like “extreme parenting – not for the faint hearted” – it’s so true on every level. Everything is heightened again – I take your magnifying glass and raise you 1, no make that 2…..
She has special needs, she is special, she’s made our world special. Myself, my husband and her siblings have had our hearts and minds opened in ways we never knew existed. It’s not all rose tinted glasses – quite the opposite in fact. Life with Isla is exhausting, challenging, relentless, messy, restricted….. It’s funny when you think about it – how on earth could you love anyone or anything that has spent the last 3 weeks keeping you up until 3am in the morning (her latest in a long run of 6 years of disastrous bedtime routines).
Her siblings are incredible with her. No matter how angry they are with each other or with me, they can stop themselves mid-rant to say “hi Isla” and give her a little hug or kiss as she passes – before relaunching their rant about the iPad or X-box or whatever the pinch point is that week…..
The love you have for your children propels you to do things you never thought you were capable of, as you defend them, support them, protect them, fight for them. When you have a disabled child – it’s not that you love them more than your other children, it’s just that they provide so many more occasions for you to defend, support, protect and fight – whether it’s doctors for treatment, social care for support, the department of work and pensions, the education system – no matter the beast – you will take it on. You dig deeper than you ever thought possible – because you have to – love gives you no choice.
Having Isla in our lives has helped us all appreciate and love the little things so much more. A smile, a kiss, her eye contact – all things we took for granted when she was a baby and then lost when autism stole them at 2.5 years. Slowly, slowly these have returned and they are the most amazing things in the whole wide world. Every smile Isla gives melts my heart anew – in a way I never knew was possible.
Love each other x
Written by Claire Cook, author of the blog Highlowfastslow.blogspot.co.uk and Mum of 3, including 6 year old Isla who has Autism and Down Syndrome. Claire is also the founder at Brightfuturemarketing.co.uk where her charitable work focuses on brighter futures for families coping with disability.