Given the time of year, most people are taking some time to reflect on their lives and think about the things and people that they find themselves grateful for. Thinking about this myself, I have to think more intently on what gratitude really looks like to me, and whether or not I truly express it to the depth that I feel it. The answer in the majority of cases, is unfortunately no.

Raising children is difficult.

Then add special needs.

And a pandemic.

Sleepless nights.

Clinical, PTSD-level anxiety.

Communication struggles that turn into meltdowns.

Meltdowns that turn into aggression.

Just so much uncertainty.

But, with each of those struggles, comes something so beautiful – so many things to be grateful for.

Grateful for the excitement and pure joy a new skill brings.

Grateful for that moment when you hit a breakthrough, and communication gains shine through.

Grateful for a supportive husband that recognizes when a break is needed, even though he is tired from a full day of work himself.

Grateful for a helpful, loving, teenage sibling that knows she is her little brother’s person – and will do anything to see him smile.

Grateful for supportive parents that will FaceTime multiple times a week – to only be talked to for a maybe two minutes of the half hour they are on the call. ‘Cause just being connected and accessible to your son calms him, knowing he can see more of his people.

Grateful for a tribe of friends that get your life, share in your struggles, acknowledge your successes and champion each other. Love y’all – the ones that lift you up during the hard, no matter the time of day… or night.

Grateful for the team of therapists and teachers, the ones that go above and beyond, so far beyond their call of duty to provide the best format for your child to flourish, and gracefully work with him even when he’s struggling, just being stubborn or even when he’s acting like a maniac squirrel that fell in a barrel of Mountain Dew and drank his way out.

There are just so many things to be grateful for. Yes, this special needs journey has its share of hard. If not for these struggles, the hard, or the difficult, the good, the gains, and the friendships would likely have never shone through so brightly.

I’m grateful for each and every one of you.

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