So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Christmas can be a very magical time of year with Santa, decorations, presents, and family gatherings.

It can also be a very tough and difficult time for families with special needs children.

For many of us as parents, we are hanging on by a thin thread as we try to honor the traditions of our extended families while keeping our children with special needs happy and on routine. 

My son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 21 months and is non-verbal. He is now 5.5 years old. He doesn’t like the noise or chaos that gatherings bring. Sometimes lights and decorations can be too overwhelming. Most times he doesn’t care about Santa or the Reindeer.

He doesn’t open presents, dig into his stocking, or write a Christmas list. He can’t call in to talk to Santa on the local radio station. He eats the same two purées every day so chocolates and Christmas dinner are a hard no.

We can’t take him to church to celebrate the birth of Christ. He also doesn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of public places the Christmas season brings so we avoid all those places from November to February. We don’t sing carols or travel to visit family. 

The hardest part for many of us is that others do not understand how difficult the holidays can be for families like ours.  

There is a longing for us to participate but there are also so many considerations. Sensory overload from lights, noise, music, laughter can cause excruciating and long-lasting meltdowns. None of us want to expose our child to the potential of that happening or to someone who doesn’t understand. 

Many of us have learned and are still learning how to do Christmas in a way that works best for our families. Maybe we don’t wrap our kids’ presents; maybe we only have visitors to our house one by one; maybe we don’t put lights on our tree; maybe we don’t visit Santa at the mall.

My son likes to spend all holidays and special occasions in the same quiet, familiar way: curled up in his recliner watching YouTube videos like Home Depot Store Tours and Charmin’ toilet paper commercials, eating Chester’s corn twists with his mom and dad.

This may not be your normal but it is our everything. 

To those of you who say that you miss something if you don’t experience Christmas through your child’s eyes, I say this:

Every day I get to experience life through the eyes of a very special little boy.

A little boy who finds pure joy and happiness in the simple things. He doesn’t ask for anything. If you could see his smiles and hear his happy squeals when we have a dance party, a new catalog arrives in the mail, or we turn on the sprinkler. Every morning he greets sleep-deprived me like he hasn’t seen me in 57 months even though it’s only been five hours (if I’m lucky). He is ecstatic to see me every single day—I don’t think there is anything better than that feeling in the whole world. He doesn’t care what you look like or the clothes you’re wearing.

Money and materialistic things have no value in his world. His currency is a connection from his heart to your heart and the sharing of simple joys—love, laughter, kindness, understanding, acceptance, and patience. Every day we celebrate progress, hard work, and determination.

I see magic every day as he grows in leaps and bounds and climbs giant mountains. I see magic in every step he climbs, every word he speaks, every kiss he gives, every bite that he consumes.

RELATED: Before I Knew Autism

In his world, we live Christmas morning through firsts and milestones—they are all so new and exciting! 

So, while you may experience the magic of Christmas through your child’s eyes on Christmas morning, I am so fortunate because I am able to experience the magic of Christmas—the pure joy and excitement you feel deep in your soul—through moments you can’t put into words each and every day through the beautiful eyes of my autistic son. 

Chrystal Venator

I am a proud wife, ASD Mom, Step-Mom and Pug Mom. In January 2017, at 21 months, my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He is 5 years old and non-verbal. Since his diagnosis, I have become a full-time stay-at-home mom. I am 1000% focused on raising autism awareness and helping my son live a full and fun life. You can follow our journey at Stalen’s Way

I’m Giving My Kids the Summer Fun I Never Had

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys playing in the waves on the beach, color photo

I love that my kids hate school. Stay with me here . . . Yes, I absolutely love that year after year, my boys cannot wait to ditch school for summer break, that they endlessly bemoan the academic year and cannot wait for June.  I love it because it is normal. I love it because it means they enjoy being at home and implies that I make summers fun for them, or, rather, allow summers to be fun for them. I love it because I always dreaded summers when I was growing up. Dreaded them with knots in my stomach...

Keep Reading

Mothering One Day at a Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding daughter in matching shirts, color photo

As I sat with my growing belly, full of anticipation for the arrival of my firstborn, the possibilities were endless for this little girl. Maybe she would lean toward the arts and be a dancer, writer, or musician. Or maybe she would take after her great-granddad and become a scientist. And maybe one day she would be a mother too. Dreaming about the future was fun and exciting. But then she surprised us with an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis. Special needs were never included in my dreaming sessions.    All of the sudden, my hopes and dreams for this new...

Keep Reading

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me It Was the Last Time You’d Be This Little

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young son playing in ocean

No one told me it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep. A cry in the night, the haze of a dimly lit room, our rocking chair worn brown. We were the only ones in a little world. No one told me it would be the last time I carried you on my hip. The way my body shifted—you changed my center of gravity. Your little arm hooked in mine, a gentle sway I never noticed I was doing. No one told me it would be the last time I pushed you on the bucket swing. Your...

Keep Reading

The Only Way to Freeze Time Is to Take the Picture—So I’ll Take as Many as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two kids sitting in wagon, color photo

Life ebbs and flows. Seasons come and go. One of the reasons I take so many photos is because they are the only way to make time stand still. They provide a nostalgia that can’t compete with anything else. They help us remember the exact moment captured and show us how fast time is fleeting. It doesn’t matter if their texture is glossy or matte. It doesn’t matter if they are in a frame or on a screen. It doesn’t matter if they are professional or if someone’s thumbprint is in the upper corner. All that matters is the moment...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!


Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime