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Enjoy the journey

December 11, 2014
Maria Smaldino Spencer , MOV Parent

I'm sure you've heard many parent say, "enjoy them while they're little, they grow up so fast." I know how true this is because my kids are 15 and 12. They are growing before my eyes, and it is a challenge to just sit back and enjoy them completely.

It is even more challenging to relax and be in the moment when you have a child with special needs. When we get in a pattern of crisis management, we are in caregiver mode, rather than parent mode. Regardless of how often your child's condition requires you to be in this mode, my prayer is my words will guide the smallest steps toward enjoying your special child more.

So how do we come to a place where we consciously make an effort to focus on our child's unique blessings they give to us daily, rather than worrying about the next crisis? I feel we must get in the habit of focusing on all the things our kids are capable of doing, rather than their limitations. When we have to be "on-call" so to speak for the next obstacle, it is so easy to get in the mode of only seeing the disability. I try to focus on my Olivia's smile, her words and her beautiful, strong-willed spirit. I've found the more I see what she can do, the things she can't do become so very small.

A friend of mine that is a parent coach always says, "What you focus on grows." Think about that and how it relates to your child, and how much brighter your days would be if the center of your focus is on the positive things he or she shows to you every day. Even the smallest accomplishment can grow if you allow it to. The small victories that our children have-a new word, a new movement, the ability to tolerate a new situation, etcthose are the things that should get us from day to day. These small goals may not mean anything to the outside world, but in our world, in our families, they mean so very much.

My challenge for you this month is to make a conscious effort to focus on one positive thing your child is capable of doing-not comparing him or her to typical peers-and watch how it grows. Just like a seed placed in soil, if it is not nurtured and taken care of, it will not grow.

The same is true of our kid's beautiful seeds that are right in front of us every day. We must water the seeds with faith-filled words of encouragement and hope for their future, and feed their rich soil by basking in their accomplishments, no matter how big or small they may be. Their self-confidence and self-pride is counting on us to consistently be the sunlight in their lives, and not bring pity into the way we react to them, but to ensure they continue to grow and blossom. By allowing ourselves to see the magnificent flowers they are becoming, we can relax and enjoy them each step of this special journey we are walking together.



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