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Two Things I Want to Say to the Mom of a Child with Special Needs

Two Things I Want to Say to the Mom of a Child with Special Needs - Columbia SC Moms BlogFor eleven years I worked as a Speech Pathologist in numerous settings. Most of my years in this profession were with the pediatric population. Some of these precious children were born with a birth defect or disease and some experienced a horrific accident causing a brain injury. Often times, I was immersed in the tragedy and difficult time in a family’s life. There were days that were incredibly sad and days where I was able to witness someone accomplish a major hurdle. This journey in the rehabilitation world taught me some incredible lessons that I had no idea would prepare me for motherhood.

So, to the mom of a child with a disability or disease who graciously shared their child with me, I have two, important things to say to you.

First, I AM SORRY.

I am sorry for expecting you to complete daily assignments. I had no idea what motherhood was like, especially with a child who requires so much of you. I am sorry for making you feel guilty for not practicing what I felt to be incredibly important, when you were trying to meet the needs of your child and have enough of yourself for the rest of your family. I am sorry I didn’t understand how you kept forgetting to follow up with the doctor or bring your child’s communication device. I am sorry I didn’t always respond with a level of empathy you deserved.

What you probably didn’t notice was when you were in the trenches of caring for your child, I was watching you. I watched as you changed your grown son’s diaper. I watched as you pushed the wheelchair up the steep ramp. I watched as you changed the feeding tube for your daughter. I watched as you tried so hard to understand what your child was trying to communicate. I watched as you apologized for the outburst your child experienced because the florescent lights sent him into sensory overload. I watched as you wiped the drool off your teenage son’s chin. I watched you pick up your child who was outgrowing you. I watched you mother your other children while you waited on your child to finish their therapy session. I watched as you weeded through all the bills for therapies, equipment and medicines.

As a mother, I now have an appreciation for you that I cannot express in adequate words. I only walked your journey with you for a short while and will never know everything you experienced or continue to experience. However, in that short time with you I can only muster up two, very simple words…

THANK YOU.

Thank you for teaching me how to persevere when the prognosis isn’t good. Thank you for teaching me patience when you aren’t seeing the gains you envisioned. Thank you for teaching me to appreciate the small things because those may actually be big things. Thank you for teaching me how to extend grace to others because none of us know their struggles.  hank you for teaching me how to move forward even when you don’t know what the next step is. Thank you for teaching me humility when you would do whatever was required for your child’s well-being. Thank you for teaching me to be my child’s biggest advocate.

You didn’t even know it and I certainly didn’t, but you shaped me as a mother. You taught me how to love my children right where they are. You taught me how to treasure every developmental milestone achieved. You showed me how to minister to them when they feel left out. You gave me a heart for those in need, which has transferred to my children. You demonstrated an unbreakable love that I have been blessed to experience. You showed me how to celebrate accomplishments and encourage them when they didn’t succeed. You showed me how to speak to my children about disabilities and differences that is honoring to others. You taught me how to hope against all hope. You proved that teachers come in all forms, for it was your child who taught me.

Today, I thank you. My children thank you. This world thanks you. Day in and day out, you demonstrate a servant’s heart that any of us should feel honored to encounter. It was my great privilege to come along side your family and a blessing I will value for a lifetime.


bio picMissey Calcutt is a follower of Jesus and wife to her best friend for 15 years. Together they have five amazing children ages 11, 8, 5, 3 and 2 months. Born and raised in Columbia, she earned a BA in Speech Language Pathology from Columbia College. She then attended USC where she earned a Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. After working in a variety of settings for several years, she became a stay-at-home mom to her growing family. Now, she juggles hectic schedules, carpool lines and nonstop meal preparation. She loves spending time with her family, reading Christian books, getting back to her passion for writing and exercising with her Crossfit family.

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13 Responses to Two Things I Want to Say to the Mom of a Child with Special Needs

  1. SALLY May 20, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    THANX 4 UNDERSTANDING, WISH OTHER PROFESSIONS & PARENTS W/O A SPECIAL NEED WOULD =( REALLY WHO’S KID IS NORMAL? I JUST USE THE WORD TRADITONAL WHEN TRYING TO REACH GOALS IN COMPARISON 😉

  2. Cassie September 2, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

    I have read this at least 3 times and just want to thank you for writing it. You have no idea who your words will reach at exactly the right moment, and yours did that!!!! Thank you for what you do, and for raising compassionate little people who will be my daughters’ peers!

    • Missey Calcutt September 9, 2016 at 11:09 am #

      I’m so glad this resonated with you! Thank you for your response.

  3. Blanca March 17, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    Dear Missey I am a mother of not one but two autistic children I just want to say how uplifting inspiring and touching your article is it hits so close to home you have no idea how much this touched me! I couldn’t help but shed a few tears Thankyou for understanding you know at my child’s speech therapy session i was given. “Homework” by my childs speech pathologist but as you can imagine and as you described in your essay i always forgot or I would remember but there was always something that would interfere and make me lose track and with so much going on I would simply forget well she the speech pathologist would ask me if i had done the. “Hw” she had assigned me I would feel as if she would put me on the spot and would make me feel bad for forgetting I wasn’t being irresponsible I just had and have lots to do and alot on my plate what with raising two autistic children and being a single mom so Thankyou for acknowledging us the parents and understanding as much as you do!!! Your article was so perfectly written!! It fits me perfect!! I will be saving this and read it at least once a day Thankyou!!!

    • Missey March 18, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

      Blanca,
      I am overjoyed this touched you so deeply! I wish I could go back and apologize for the expectations I placed on some families. Sometimes we get in professional mode and we forget about reality. Thank you for your kind words.

  4. Stephanie Thompson March 17, 2017 at 11:59 pm #

    My child does not have physical disabilities but rather a mental illness. Despite a somewhat supportive school district, I pulled her out in 7th grade to home school her. Much of what you write about here resonates with our experience. The exhaustion, financial implications, struggle to communicate her needs with the school became too much. Especially, in light of having two other kids who needed my husband and I and were thrown under the bus at night as we endures hours of stress helping her to complete homework only to have her efforts diminished by those who did not understand her struggles. Thank you for using your voice to educate others about those of us who live under the radar.

    • Missey March 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

      Stephanie,
      I am so glad this resonated with you and you found resolution with your child. I cannot imagine all there is to juggle especially with other children to tend to. Thank you for your comment!

  5. Terry Holybee May 6, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

    Your thoughts are well meaning but could you please include fathers? Many dads stay at home while their wives work. They are in those same trenches as stay at home moms. And if they aren’t home they are working to provide insurance for their kids and food on the table. It really is time to honor both parents. I couldn’t have done right by my sons without my husband. And now my son is the stay at home parent for his two medically challenged boys. Thanks.

    • Missey May 6, 2017 at 10:02 pm #

      You are exactly right! I couldn’t agree more. I did target the mom’s in this post because I had the most interactions with them and they were such wonderful models for me.
      Thank you for bringing my attention to that.

  6. Jan Evans May 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

    Thank you so much, you are correct and many times, we are not noticed, and also right about many think we just say it’s hard or they don’t understand why we can’t get everything done in a day. I am a 58 yr old grandmother and legal guardian of a wonderful grandchild with Cerebral Palsy. The reason is children’s protective services got involved 6 years ago, and with her father in prison for manslaughter and a mother battling drug addiction & prostitution, I was asked if I would take her in, otherwise she was going to foster care. Taken by surprise, my answer was “Yes Absolutely” Unprepared but my heart was saying this Angel deserves a chance at a normal, happy, & loving life. I immediately read all I could and took every class I could to educate myself about the disability. I also put my Criminal Justice career on hold and dove in. Understand that she won’t live a long life, (as many don’t & her doctors confirmed) I have given 110% and she comes before anyone or anything, even my own needs. I have given her the funniest happy filled, fullest loving days possible. We are so rich with Love and I’ve fallen so in love and became so attatched to this special grandchild. It’s been the best experience and the best days of my life to have had this blessing in disguise and I’m so thankful and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. People says she’s lucky to have me and I quickly correct them and say ,”no I’m the lucky one to have her”.

    • Missey May 6, 2017 at 10:07 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Sounds like you are both a blessing for each other and I love that!

  7. Jan Evans May 6, 2017 at 7:48 pm #

    What is awaiting moderation?

    • Tiffany Nettles
      Tiffany Nettles May 6, 2017 at 9:34 pm #

      All comments on our blog are moderated before posted to verify they are not spam. We appreciate your comment and sharing your experience. It sounds like you had a wonderful experience, and your perspective is spot on.

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