The Gift That Keeps On Giving

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As little girls, some of us dream of becoming mothers, but I don’t think we are ever fully prepared for
the ride of our lives.

I am a mom to 2
boys – 21 and 18.  The oldest, Casey, is
developmentally disabled and was in special education his whole school career.  Casey is now attending a community college in
a special needs curriculum for Culinary Arts.

When he was a baby, I noticed that Casey wasn’t reaching all the milestones my
friends’ kids were.  A mother’s intuition
is always right.  After many doctor
visits and hospital stays across the nation, what I had felt was
confirmed.  He has an IQ of 67 and has
low functioning motor skills.  To this
day, he can’t do one thing most kids can – ride a bike.

I remember my own mother saying this one
sentence to me – “It is so easy to raise a “normal” kid, but to raise one that
is different is spectacular.”   It was because of this philosophy that I had my
Oprah “aha” moment: I could not focus on
all the things Casey could not do, but on what he could do.

As a family, we embraced his limitations.  Because we were not afraid to laugh and
enjoy his journey – no matter how hard it got – we succeeded.  Believe me, there were some dark days, but his
smile and tenacity got me through it.  I
am the woman I am today because of Casey.

Here are some things I have learned over the years:

1.  Never compare your
children to their siblings or peers.

2.  Sometimes 2 steps forward may mean 3 steps back in the
future; don’t get discouraged.

3.  Surround yourself
with positive people.  No “woe is me” attitude.  It gets you nowhere.

4.  Nothing you did
caused your child’s disability.

5.  Embrace their
journey.

6.  Even if you feel like you can’t
– LAUGH.  Laugh at the mistakes you will
make and the accomplishments.

Funny story about Casey that will explain it all:

Once, he was alone in a classroom when the school had a fire drill. His teacher called to inform me that the school is
in lock-down because they can’t find Casey.
The whole school was on the front lawn waiting for the fire department and
police to arrive.  It turned out, Casey had been hiding the
whole time in a closet in his classroom.

He came home and I proceeded to ask him what happened in school
that day. His response – “We had a fire
drill.  I hid in the closet.  Did you think I was going to go out in the
rain?” No filter and sometimes I think he is the
smartest one in our family.

Learn more about Kathy and her family’s journey at http://moms-out-loud.net/ 

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