Stop what you are doing. Right now. Close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose like you are getting ready to dive to the bottom of the deepest ocean. Hold it for a few seconds. Just for a few. You don’t have time to pass out, after all. Now, breathe out slowly through your mouth, like you are blowing out the candles on Betty White’s birthday cake.

Now, repeat. Over and over. And throw in some lavender lotion and a nice warm bubble bath. (Ha! We both know that last part isn’t happening anytime soon.)

Being a mom is tough.

Being a mom to a lot of kids is super tough.

Being a mom to a lot of kids and having special needs in the mix . . . 

It’s like trying to thread a needle with your teeth while balancing on a tightrope, on a unicycle, over a lava pit–blindfolded. Seriously. 

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It’s learning to function in survival mode most days and not being able to remember what life was like before that.

It’s having a therapy session, a 504 meeting, and a conference call with the school counselor on the same day and all for different children while also making sure the other kids have everything they need and get individual attention.

It’s researching new medications and therapy techniques while being on hold with the insurance company, trying to reassure another child, while worrying that the 5-year-old has had too much screen time and the teenager forgot her chores.

It’s being pulled in so many different directions that you are continuously in awe of how God keeps you from snapping.

It is absolute, relentless madness.

But is that all? Is life just a jumbled mix of chaos and confusion? Is everything just going to be difficult all the time?  

No! There is a good side, and it is amazingly beautiful.

It’s being a master of multi-tasking in everything you do.

It’s learning to enjoy the small accomplishments of your children and savor each one. While some parents cheer because little Johnny scored two points on the basketball court, you are cheering because your little one made it to the game without a panic attack. What a wonderful feeling!

It’s seeing the smile on your child’s face when he overcomes something in therapy and feels proud of himself. 

It’s knowing your typically developing children are developing a healthy, lifelong awareness and empathy for others with different abilities.

It’s being amazed every day by the abilities God gives you to handle things you never thought you could handle.

It’s seeing your children interact with one another and try to help each other through struggles. 

It’s realizing that what used to seem like big struggles were actually not all that big.

It’s learning to appreciate all the little things.

Now take a moment to think of how far you have come on this journey. Consider what you have learned and how you have grown emotionally and spiritually.

I sometimes look at my children and wonder how life might have been different with a smaller family and without special needs.

And then I realize that everything I have experienced is a gift–a gift God uses to help others as I share my story. He uses the good times, and He uses to hard times too. Others will be blessed by your failures often as much as by your triumphs.

What you do every day is astonishing, and you are showing the world how God equips us for whatever He sends our way. Keep going! And maybe eventually, somewhere down the road, you’ll get that nice, warm bubble bath.

Emily J. Merrick

Emily J. Merrick has a Bachelor's Degree in Family Studies from the University of Kentucky. She worked in a variety of social work and educational settings before becoming a full-time stay-at-home-mom in 2002. She and her (high-school sweetheart) husband have been together for almost 30 years and married for 24. Emily is a mother of six. Her third child passed away after heart surgery. Emily's five living children range in age from 19 down to 5. She ran a very successful Etsy shop from home for six years before becoming disabled in 2021. She now shares her experience through writing and enjoys time at home with her family and pets on 12 beautiful, rural acres in Kentucky.