I don’t know why I still subscribe to them. Those weekly emails from the parenting websites listing the milestones my children ‘should’ be reaching at three weeks, three months, three years. It’s weaning time! … How to get your toddler to sleep … Starting school … and, this week, 50 reasons why it’s fun to be a [mainstream] parent.
I know they mean well. If you’re struggling with sleepless nights or a tantruming toddler it’s good to be reminded of the positives, right? But what if none of those things that make mainstream parenting fun apply? What if ‘discovering how lovely the dawn chorus can be’ just doesn’t cut it? What if you’re never going to hear him ‘say I love you Mummy’? Is parenting a SEND child no fun?
Yes, it can be exhausting, challenging, nervewracking, heartbreaking. But I firmly believe that deeper troughs make for higher peaks. SEND parents not only learn to celebrate the tiniest inchstones for all they are worth, but to see the funny side of things that frankly aren’t funny at all! I’m sure these will be different for every SEND family but, on Benjamin’s third birthday, I’ve put together my own list of reasons it’s fun, wonderful and inspiring to be his mum.
- He gives the best smiles
- He gives the best hugs
- Running my fingers through his curls
- Looking into his big brown eyes
- Tickling the baby-soft soles of his feet
- Savouring the simple things with him – the light coming in the window, leaves against a blue sky
- Seeing the love his siblings have for him – and how he reciprocates it
- Seeing how gentle, loving and patient his Daddy is with him
- Seeing his heart rate go on up the sats monitor when he hears Mummy or Daddy’s voice
- His smile when you give him a taste of ice cream
- His look of disgust when you give him pureed chicken!
- Learning a whole new set of skills (nursing, negotiating, engineering, accounting, …). If only I could put them on my CV…
- The sense of satisfaction when you hoover a big plug of phlegm out of his throat
- The way he looks around in delight when you put his glasses on
- How cute he looks in his glasses
- An excuse to hang a disco ball in your lounge and have fairy lights up all year
- An excuse to play with bubbles every day
- Getting to watch Waybuloo on repeat
- Shopping – who knew how many gorgeous bibs and onesies there are out there nowadays?
- Choosing cute teeny tiny glasses
- Choosing snuggly jumpers and snugglier socks
- Rediscovering the joy of Christmas – baubles and fairy lights really are all you need
- Seeing how he relaxes in the bath
- The sense of satisfaction when you manage to capture that smile on camera
- Learning his unique language
- Seeing him turn his head to look at me when I speak
- Seeing him smile when I walk into a room
- The special kisses that he saves just for mummy
- The special nappies that he saves just for Daddy!
- Morning snuggles with five in the bed (we really need a bigger bed)
- That feeling that you could watch him sleep forever
- Making amazing new friends with amazing wee heroes for children
- Meeting a community of other SWAN parents who just get it
- Everybody in the town wanting to stop and hear how he is
- People passing in the street saying ‘You’ve got your hands full!’ and thinking ‘Yeah, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.’
All this in just three years; I can’t wait to see what you bring us in the future. Happy Birthday my gorgeous boy, I am truly grateful to be your mum.