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Parents of Children with Special Needs: Cultivate Your Joy

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
06/30/17  3:37 PM PST
parents of special needs children

Parents of Children with Special Needs: Cultivate Your Joy

When I heard about the book, Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant,  it sounded intriguing. So I loaded it onto my Kindle and left it there for a few months. I finally opened it up last week, and I’m stunned by how applicable it is for me as a mom of children with developmental disabilities and complex medical needs. Simply put, the book is about what happens when “option A” for your life doesn’t pan out and you have to turn to the next option, and how to “kick the shit” out of option B.

I cannot even begin to count the nuggets of wisdom I’ve accrued from my reading so far, but what really knocked me off my feet was the chapter about joy. I realized that I left joy a few miles back on my journey, and it’s time to get reacquainted. There may be little I can do to avoid the numerous phone calls to and from schools, doctors, insurance companies and the like – the appointments will always be there, as will the daily maintenance and medical procedures – but (to paraphrase Bono, of U2), I can choose joy as an act of defiance.

However, as I realized, joy isn’t going to sneak up on me and invite itself into my day, I have to be intentional about cultivating it.

I was wary of making joyfulness just one more line item on my to-do list, so I decided to take a different approach, and be mindful of joy in the moment, and to give it momentum. This is an example from today:

  • When my son laughed at me for being silly, instead of just smiling back, I chose to laugh out loud with him.

parents of special needs children

  • I planted flower seeds that I have had for a while and had set aside.
  • Even though I felt pressed for time today (like every day) I sat in the sunshine for several minutes this morning, just feeling it soak into my body and give me energy.
  • While doing work around the house, I put on upbeat music and danced my way through the day’s chores.
  • While making phone calls today, I made an extra effort to be friendly.  Maybe it’s just me, but those phone calls didn’t seem so tedious.

Those little things took almost no extra effort on my part, but each of them put a bit of fuel back into my tank. My hope is to continue to build on this with tiny bits of momentum throughout each day. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I got my to-do list done early, and a little extra time on my hands, which is an unusual luxury. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I suspect it’s the extra spring in my step.

I cannot always choose my circumstances, but I can choose to fight back with joy, every single day.


More Articles for Parents of Special Needs Children:

PTSD in Parents of Children with Special Needs: How I Deal

Super Parents of Children with Special Needs

Self-Care for Parents of Children with Special Needs


1 Comment

  1. Teresa Z.
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 11:56 am PDT

    I always smile, cry, laugh or all of the above after I read your writings.Joy is easy to do once you start and I think that will help me change my menopausal self!!

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