By: Anise Marshall
Growing weary when you have a child with a disability is normal. Many times, I wonder if life was more difficult when I worked as a teacher full time, when I was a full time student in graduate school or when I worked as a manager at a health care clinic. Either way, I’ve had a difficult time managing. There have been things that have helped me with learning how to cope, though. If you have multiple children, you understand that each child is very different from the other. Some like to cuddle while others want space. Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages,” has been a huge help in understanding my children’s love language. These are one of the things that have helped me.
If you’re unfamiliar with love languages, these are ways that people show or prefer to receive "their" definition of love. Being/ feeling loved can make any relationship significantly better! There are fun quizzes you can take online to determine you or your loved ones love language.
Below, you will find the link.
The love languages are:
Affirmation: You show your love by explaining the beautiful qualities about a person.
Quality time: You show your love by spending, exclusive, one on one time with someone.
Gifts: You show your love through gift giving (can be created or bought).
Act of service: You show your love by lending a helping hand and keeping those promises.
Physical touch: You show your love through hugs, holding hands or cuddling.
Most times, you’ll find that many children have multiple ways of feeling loved. It is refreshing and interesting to see how different your children are from one another. Doing the quiz together can be fun and teach you, as a parent, that parenting isn’t always complicated.
Mothering a child with a disability is a little more multilayered than one would think. It can be challenging, demanding and downright exhausting when you’re dealing with a child who has a hard time talking, explaining pain, getting along with others or even having seizures. I have a daughter who has ADHD and another who has been diagnosed with static encephalopathy and underlying seizures. We, however, don’t let their illnesses define them. Even though we don’t define them by their illness, we make a conscious effort to remind ourselves that this is why things are hard and THAT’S OKAY.
It’s important to take breaks from your children. If that means sitting on your front porch while they eat dinner or asking someone to babysit, only for you to sit at the park, DO IT! Mommy’s need time to breath and take care of themselves. I remember times where I would overexert myself to the point that I would literally begin crying. Let me tell you, it was not good for me or for them! There were times where we would all be sprawled out crying on the floor while daddy was at work. It can be straining. You must have some kind of dialogue with your children, regarding disabled siblings, so that everyone feels treasured.
I tell my daughters that they are all unique and valuable to this world. It is important to speak life into your children. Take the time to remind them, before the start of their day and when the day comes to an end. Explain to each one of them why you’re happy to have them in your life. It can change their outlook on life. Before they go to bed, build them up! Remind them of their worth! "You ARE beautiful, you ARE SMART, YOU ARE UNIQUE, YOU MATTER TO THIS WORLD, THIS WORLD NEEDS YOU!" We don't realize how much our children need to hear these things. Saying this prepares them when facing a world that says that they are unworthy. Remember, not everyone raises their children to value others. A lot of children are raised with hate in their hearts and are hurting.
It’s also important to have people in your life who are willing to help you deal with your mental state. I am very blessed to have multiple friends in my life that remind me to take time for myself as a benefit to my mental health. Keep these kinds of people in your life. I am also blessed because my daughters understand that they are a part of a team. A team that is created to uplift, encourage and empower one another to strive for greatness. They edify one another which makes me feel good as a mom. They also motivate each other to push past things that are hard. That includes my two girls who have learning disabilities. We challenge them daily to do more than they did the day before. When they do, it’s a celebration. When they don’t, it’s still a lesson! Either way, we are happy because they haven’t given up!
My youngest daughter is 3 years old. She can speak about 7 words. She can identify one of our family members and smiles frequently. She can run and jump. She just recently started laughing. You don't appreciate the little things until you're put in a position to. I don't remember the first day I heard any of my other children laugh except baby Shannon. That is because she wasn't able to until a few weeks ago. I tell them to look at disabilities as what one CAN do instead of what one CAN’T do. Cherish your children and the things that make them unique. This makes all the difference. These are the keys to finding joy in chaos!