Feb. 11 ♥ YOU DESERVE A BREAK. Even God took a day of rest. Yet you feel guilty if you allow any time for yourself. Sit down with a book, sleep a little late, stop for a cup of coffee, and that voice in the back of your head is liable to go into overdrive with alerts about all the things you should be doing, all the problems you should be worrying about. That untiring motivation and determination are a large part of your effectiveness as a parent of a child with special needs, but that doesn't mean you don't have a right -- even a responsibility -- to turn it off every now and then. You will be of no good to anybody if you hit the wall of mental and physical exhaustion. Charging up your batteries every now and then with some good old selfish "me" time helps you keep that spark.
Feb. 10 ♥ YOU ARE RESOURCEFUL. You've had to learn how to do research and find information and get services and understand what specialists are talking about. You've had to improvise ways to calm your child down, help your child learn, get your child to sleep or eat or talk or use the potty. You don't wait around for the answers to come to you -- you've learned through hard experience that if you don't go out and find them, nothing's ever going to get done. That makes you sort of a parenting MacGyver, able to solve problems on the fly with a mix of instinct, insight and ingenuity. Even when things seem most overwhelming, you start figuring out a solution, calling on all your resources -- and you're quick to offer yourself as a resource when other parents need inspiration.
Feb. 9 ♥ YOU ARE BLESSED. It may feel more like a curse sometimes, but having a child with special needs brings with it abundant opportunities for grace. It slows you down and allows you to enjoy the little things -- a calm quiet day, a hard-won skill, a spontaneous hug, a pleasant conversation. Where other parents are driven to find their children's success in high grades and high scores on the playing field, you are granted the privilege of focusing on the things that really matter, teaching your children how to love and care and communicate on the most basic level. You know what's important, and because you're not caught up in trivialities you are able to appreciate that so much more deeply. Miracles happen every day, if you only know where to look for them.
Feb. 8 ♥ YOU HAVE SUPERPOWERS. So maybe you're not Spiderman (though wouldn't those webs come in handy sometimes?) You still have senses and abilities far more developed than those of the average parent. Your senses tingle when something is wrong with your child, long before anybody else notices a difference. With your X-ray vision, you see through inaccurate diagnoses and inadequate treatments; with your superior strength, you blast through red tape and past ineffectual bureaucrats to get your child what he or she needs; with your lightning speed, you swoop in to keep your child out of trouble. Like many a superhero, you can't always explain to mere mortals how you know what you know. But as Peter Parker himself learned, with great power comes great responsibility.
Feb. 7 ♥ YOU HAVE A MISSION. Many people spend their whole lives wondering what their purpose is, whether they have a greater calling, something bigger than themselves. You don't have to wonder: You know the answer every time you look at your child. Helping your precious one reach his or her fullest potential -- pursuing treatments, fighting for diagnoses, battling on behalf of your child's rights -- can become a personal crusade, and a particularly fulfilling one. But even the little things, like helping your son through a hard day or a tricky homework problem, or finding a way to calm or comfort your daughter, are often enough to make you feel like you were put on earth for a reason. You need never ponder what your life is good for. You're a mom or a dad with a mission.
Feb. 6 ♥ YOU TRY HARD. "Try hard and do your best." That's what you tell your children, and you're happy with whatever they're able to accomplish. You understand that perfection, or even an average level of acheivement, is legitimately beyond their grasp, and you offer endless inspiration and encouragement. But how often do you give yourself the same credit? Parenting is hard work. Parenting a child with special needs is harder. You can't always know the right answer. You can't always make the right judgment. Mistakes are built into the job. Like your child, you will not always have the information or the ability or the skills necessary to perform perfectly. It's unfair to expect that you will. You try hard, and you do your best. That's enough. That's everything.