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Photo Credit: Shannon Ritter Photography

Having Gratitude as a Special Needs Parent in 2020

November 26, 2020

It is common knowledge that Thanksgiving is a time to show thanks and gratitude.  For me, gratitude has helped me through the darkest days as I sat helpless in hospital rooms.  I would think of those without family and those who had worse situations.  I would instantly ground myself and become less self-centered.  Let's face it- gratitude can humble you. 


I vividly remember a hospital stay where my son, who happens to have Down syndrome and Autism, was in isolation for days.  The nurses were so good.  I heard a child crying next door.  One nurse asked if it was ok if she didn't spend as much time in our room.  I told her I would only call her if my son needed more medication.  Apparently, there was no family available for the crying child.  The child was alone.  My heart sank.  I was so sad for this child.  My son was fighting for his life and I genuinely felt sorry for the kid next door.  Gratitude will allow you to experience feelings and meaning you never even knew existed. 


I am a pretty lucky lady.  After all, my children are still alive and here with me.  Some of my friends can't say the same.  One of the first thought carousels I had, when I became a special need's mom, was to accept the fact that I would have to watch children suffer.  Some diagnoses have a short life expectancy.  Just one child's funeral is too many.  I quickly realized that I could do it.  I could help and be friends with others with no certainty of the future.  All we have is now.  And now, I can truly be thankful and grateful just for life itself. 


If 2020 has taught me anything, it has taught me the value and quality of life. I am grateful that my son has not even had a cold for eight whole months.  Never in his life has he been without sickness that long.  It is one of the best reasons to be thankful.  I can't predict the future.  However, I can choose how I think about the future.  My son has taught me the bliss living in the moment can create.  I strive every day to be more like him.  He shows gratitude in soaking up the moment.  In gratitude, I find happiness.  Here is to hoping you find happiness in gratitude this Thanksgiving no matter what is happening or what you think the future holds.