Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Contact Us | Home RSS

Your Special Backpack

October 15, 2015
Maria Smaldino Spencer , MOV Parent

As we all know, our daily lives changed in many ways when our special child came into our world. Think about the early days of the diagnosis or delays that affected your child. Were you the same person that you are today? Did you think you had the skills that it took to start to endure this journey? Did you take on this challenge with confidence? My guess is your answer to these questions is "No."

None of us knew what to expect and what was in store for us or our families as we started to take steps on this very special road. From conversations with many special moms, the most common initial emotions are fear, frustration and worry. They are all at the root of the unknown. The road looks dark and scary, and most of us think we have absolutely no skills to walk through each twist and turn. We all felt unqualified. But I've learned that is not true.

I have been on my journey with my daughter for thirteen years now, and I assure you I felt absolutely unqualified when she was an infant. I had doubts and fears I thought only I had. I was sure I must have been the only mom in the world who ever had to venture out into this unknown.

Article Photos

But then I started listening to every word of every doctor and therapist. And I began researching and seeking out other parents, and asking questions at every turn.and I realized that as I was starting to walk through this, I was carrying a backpack filled with experience. Maybe not disability or special needs experience, but experience at being a daughter, sister, wife and mom. This backpack didn't seem to slow my pace down or make me unable to go on. Instead, it actually seemed to be helping me. I opened it up without even realizing it, and pulled out exactly what I needed.

Over the years, I have realized it was there all along. My prayer this month is you will recognize your special backpack and be proud of all the things that it is filled with. I imagine it contains many things that mine has

It is filled with all of the things that make you-you. Things like: Your innate fighter spirit, your ability to stand up for yourself and others and your natural caregiver skills. Your backpack has also provided you with things like endurance, patience, love, hope and strength to keep you moving forward. It is weighed down with your life experiences-your upbringing, work life, tragedies and celebrations- that have molded and created you to be the person that you are right now. It is bursting with fuel that increased in volume long before you ever became a special parent.

That's the beauty of being chosen for this amazing task. Your life experiences brought you to the place that you are right now. Because God chose you, He made sure He allowed circumstances and gave you personality traits that would mold you into a special parent.

We have all felt weighed down and wanted to stop on this journey. But think about those days, weeks or months when you wanted to stop. When you look back on them, did you ever really give up? Did you ever really stop and feel truly unable to take another step? I'm sure you didn't. Because your backpack is not there to slow you down, it is designed to enable you to keep pressing on. It is during these times that the information it contains is most valuable. Without even realizing it, you are able to call upon whatever you need for that moment, pull it out, and allow it to help you get through the darkest days.

Be proud of all the things your backpack contains and know that it has been there all along, and it will continue to be there to help you through every challenge and triumph you face. Trust what is inside of it, and be confident that the contents are uniquely yours-created from all your life experiences. Your life story didn't begin when your special child came into this world, your entire life was designed to prepare you for your journey.

Maria Smaldino Spencer is a special mom, special needs consultant and a center supervisor administrator at CDI Head Start of Mahoning County in Youngstown. Contact her at



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web