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Dear parents who aren’t dropping off their high school graduate at college, 

I lift you up. 

We are many. 

We live different dreams for our once littles, now adults. 

I have many friends who are going through the empty nest syndrome right now . . . dropping off their seniors at college, turning around, and going home . . . without them. I have watched their children grow and flourish and feel so proud of them. It makes my heart heavy for them thinking about it. I will most likely be there too within a few years with our second son.

But for now, there are those of us parents who aren’t.

You see, we now have different dreams for our children.

We have a child, now an adult, who has special needs. Yet, he falls somewhere in this grey area between going off to college . . . and learning more life skills in order to seek a job to become a productive citizen of his community.

RELATED: To the Special Needs Parent Facing a School Year That Feels Uncertain

When our son was born with Apert Syndrome, the pediatrician instructed us to “treat him like a normal baby.” 

So, that’s what we attempted to do.

We pushed, too much and too little. 

We hoped, we grieved. 

We advocated, we waited. 

RELATED: The Struggle You Don’t See in a Special Needs Family

We had a minimal point of reference as to what his outlook would be for his life.

And here we are, at that milestone that encompasses what many deem as the moment in time that determines our life direction: high school graduation; college; careers; marriage; family, etc.

Do we have hopes and dreams for our children to strive for all of those things? Sure we do because we want the best for them. They are our children. 

Reality begins to steer us. 

RELATED: Becoming a Special Needs Parent Was Unexpected But So is My Strength as a Mother

Are any of you here too, at this crossroad? Plans don’t fit the mold of the world?

Truth: We begin living new and different dreams for our children.

Dreams that no one understands but you and me.

I have many friends with children who have disabilities, but even so, all of these new dreams still differ. 

This is what I see through my lenses, rose-colored they may be:

Look how far we’ve come, he is still here with us, we never knew if he would be.

Look at the things he can do, we wondered if they would happen for him.

Look at how he has overcome, we worried so much.

Look at how amazing God is, to allow us to witness such glory!

RELATED: 3 Hard-Fought Lessons I’ve Learned as a Special Needs Parent

I hope today you allow yourself to put on those rose-colored glasses and revel in the blessings and glory that God has given you. It is a gift that has been given to all of us, so that we may share God’s light of His true gifts. 

It’s time for new chapters, pivotal moments, whether it is continued transitional school, trying to get a job, going to vocational school, becoming an adult, or just a goal to start learning about life.

So, parents, I lift you up, every single one of you, because I am right beside you.

Here’s to different dreams, new chapters, and continually thanking God for His awesome blessings in good and bad times!

Originally published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Lisa Brown

Hey Y'all! I'm Lisa Brown. I am a "pseudo-retired" special education teacher of 16 years, now working part-time in accounting. I write about special needs parenting, faith, gardening and other joyful projects. I live in Texas with my husband of 20 years, two teenage boys, three dogs, son's pet rabbit, and all of nature's other's creatures that wander our yard. 

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