You begin this day just as any other, at 5:24 am when those little boy feet hit the hardwood floor and you begin doing the math of how many hours you have to fill for him today.
You are worried about how he will be today. How you will pass the time as you wait for noon to roll around when you can arrive at the in-laws for dinner. You worry about the same things you worry about every other morning: how he will handle eating breakfast, getting dressed, and getting out the door. You hope it won’t be a fight, but you know it probably will be.
You are anxious about the meal to come. How many times he will get up from the table because he can’t focus. How many times you will have to take breaks with him in the bedroom to calm him, de-stimulate him, or discipline him.
You worry about how he will play with his cousins. You worry about how he will handle the noise, the excitement, and the deviation from the routine.
You are human. So you also worry about what they will think. You know they know the drill…this isn’t the first family dinner. But you still wonder if they think you are doing a good enough job…if they really view your son’s needs as truly valid or just a parenting problem…if they are imagining all of the ways they would do it differently.
But you are thankful.
Thankful for the days that are less of a fight. Thankful for medication that seems to be helping. Thankful for the therapists and special needs teachers who have poured their lives (and energy) into your son. Thankful for Medicaid that pays for occupational therapy, play therapy, and medication. Thankful for his IEP and education services.
You are thankful for children’s church teachers who tell you they have fallen in love with your son, or meet you in your home to go over strategies to help him.
You are thankful for your mother-in-law who takes him off your hands as much as she can to give you sanity breaks. And you are thankful that when you asked her what you could bring for Thanksgiving Dinner her only response was “smiling faces and empty bellies.”
You are thankful for all of your family, Facebook friends, and blog readers who celebrate his successes along with you – the cheerleaders and prayer warriors he doesn’t even know he has.
You are thankful for your special needs mom besties who are just a Voxer message away when you need advice…or lose your crap completely.
You are thankful for your husband who, despite his own special needs, does his best to be the best father he can – taking him on outings to the park or hiking, doing the dishes, giving you breaks, and taking charge in those moments where you just can’t cope.
You are thankful for the strength God gives to make it through each day you woke up saying, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
But most of all, you are thankful for him. For his beautiful smile. For his contagious laugh. For his intelligent questions. For the progress he’s made. For the coping skills he has learned. For all the times he apologizes. For all the times he says, “Thanks, Mom.” For all the good days, good hours, good moments. For the battle that overwhelms him but does not overcome him.