They say you are strong, but you don’t feel strong.

They say they don’t know how you do it, but you don’t feel like you are doing it at all.

They say you must have the patience of Job, but patience seems far beyond your reach these days.

They say God chose you, but sometimes you don’t understand how He will help you through the next day’s IEP meeting or therapy session for your child.

They say you must be so organized to handle what you do, but you feel engulfed in infinite chaos most of the time.

RELATED: I’m Not a Saint, I’m Just a Special Needs Mom

They say you are handling difficulty so well, but you are actually just one pediatric specialist appointment away from losing it.

They say–they say a lot of things, but they don’t know.

They don’t know you look at your child sometimes and wonder how much longer it will be before your patience wears too thin and you have to walk away.

They don’t know you face the constant judgment of friends, family members, and strangers–so many of them thinking you are screwing up every day.

They don’t know your heart breaks every time you see someone’s social media post about their child graduating from college, and you wonder if your child will ever be able to handle going to college or leaving home at all.

They don’t know you feel so alone because others with only typically developing children just don’t understand and often avoid talking to you for that reason.

They don’t know there are quite a few people in your life who believe your child’s carefully and painstakingly diagnosed needs are not even real.

They don’t know you would give just about anything to have the support of those looking in from the outside–rather than their criticism.

They don’t know you spend hours researching your child’s diagnoses, trying to do everything you can to give him the best life possible.

They don’t know how hard you fight for what comes easily to most families.

They don’t know how much you need someone to acknowledge how far you’ve come on this journey–a journey that is anything but predictable.

They don’t know how much you long for the phone to ring, with a voice on the other end asking, “How can I help today?”

But, dear special needs mom, I know. I really know.  

We are here together, you and I–fighting for our children because we love them unconditionally and magnificently. We share a commonality that makes us part of a family of sorts. I may not know you. I may not have your number. But be assured that you are on my mind. Today. Right now.

I recognize what you really need and want you to know I need it, too.

I pray for you often. I wonder how your child is doing. I wonder if it was you I just passed on the highway or sat next to in the doctor’s office. I want you to know you are not alone.

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

I hope you can draw strength from my struggle and pass some of it along to another mom in our shoes when you are able.

And I hope you know God is there too. He hears your prayers and knows your sorrows better than anyone.

So often, I forget to turn to Him. We all do. But I know He is there.

Maybe someday I will meet you in person and we can share our stories with one another and even discuss the difficult details. But if we are too tired, and all we can manage is a concurrent nod and an understanding exchange of glances, that works too.  

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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 30 years and married for 25. 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 6. She ran a very successful Etsy shop from home for six years before becoming disabled in 2020. She now shares her experience through writing and enjoys time at home with her family in rural Kentucky. 

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