See that necklace? It belongs to my daughter. My precious, exhausting, loud, beautiful daughter. That necklace represents a journey for me and her. It represents a journey taken by her dad and her. In February, it represented the last 27 months of our lives.
I have a child with a high sensory need. I used to think that was an excuse made by parents who didn’t spank their children. Yep. I was naive. I didn’t cast judgment intentionally on their parenting, I just was thankful my kids didn’t do what their children did.
Then one glorious day something insane happened and I got a smack to the face. A beautiful little baby, totally opposite of everything I knew, was handed to me. As an infant she fought me. She didn’t like to be snuggled, she wanted to be put down. She never looked me in the eyes, she was in her own world. She didn’t walk when I thought she should. She didn’t say momma or daddy until way past the time frame considered to be “normal”.
She challenged me. She threw fits that I couldn’t believe and at times made me cry. I quickly realized I was now the parent of a child that needed something I had never had to give before. Something not everyone understood. To be honest most things I didn’t understand myself. We struggled a lot, her and I. I wanted her to look at me and obey. She wanted to avoid my eyes and didn’t even know what obey meant. The things I thought were natural for children didn’t seem to be natural to her. I found myself at restaurants and realized I was the one with the child throwing the raging fits. The child who eats anything in her path and the one who demands what she wants. It wasn’t because I was a bad parent, it was because my child was struggling to survive in a very fast paced world. She was struggling to communicate her needs and understand her own body. She was processing a raging world of senses and didn’t know how to explain what she was feeling.
That necklace has become something sort of a miracle for us. For any parent raising a child with extra needs and finding a tool that helps is like a life raft. Giving her something that helps her process the world around her made our lives easier, it has made her life easier. We have gone from 20 plus fits a day down to single digits. It changed the game for all of us. It opened our eyes to resources that are available that no one told us existed. It reminds me that we are not alone. I am not a bad parent raising a terrible child, but instead a tenacious parent fighting for the full health of my daughter. Fighting to help her acclimate to a world full of situations set out to overwhelm her.
This post won’t be fully understood by everyone. At one point in my life I would have scrolled right on through. “Give that child boundaries and you will see behaviors change” would have went through my mind. HA! We do have boundaries but that isn’t always a guaranteed recipe for success.
To the parents reading this and nodding your head in agreement, I see you. I see you struggling to make it, you aren’t alone. Today has been a good day in our house. Only a few tough spots, but goodness yesterday was like 80 years of hard. I have come to the conclusion that I have to celebrate the good days and push through the work of the bad. That tiny little “chew chew” necklace (as we call it) is a reminder of that for us all. One day this girl will walk across that high school graduation stage as a healthy, beautiful woman and I will remember these moments. These exhausting, hard won moments where we didn’t back down on helping her win.
It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)