Half of them she made because she loves art. The other half she made because she loves me. She wanted to cheer me up. I can’t think of anything more sweet or selfless for someone to do than take the time to create a piece of art out of their own creativity and with their own hands, just to help someone else feel happier.
This is my daughter, Sophia. At first glance people don’t know she’s been diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, and High-functioning Aspergers. It’s hard for me to even type those words because that’s not what I see when I look at her either. I see a vibrant, artistic, smart, caring, creative, sometimes crazy-loud & other times overwhelmingly shy, silly, thoughtful, beautiful, Christ-like child of God. I know she’s not perfect. She’s my daughter, so just like she’s seen the worst of me, I’ve seen the worst of her. But her “worse” is innocent, trying, frustrated, confused and yet still, her best in that moment of challenge. And I’m so proud of her for trying everyday to fit in to this square world when she is a star.
She did these art projects this week completely all on her own- no prompting from me…
Yes, she may not always be socially on target. She may not completely understand personal boundaries. And we are still working on getting through the tired afternoon without a tantrum. But she IS my sunshine. She IS a joy. She remembers stories I told her years ago with amazing detail, makes up songs while we drive to the grocery store and sees beauty in the simplest things.
She fills me with wonder every day.
It is a privilege to be the parent of a Special Needs child. Some people who know me and Sophia may not think we fit in this category, but you don’t know the things we struggle with behind closed doors. Still, I would not be as strong or patient without her in my life. She understands I get tired some days of the distractions that keep her from brushing her teeth even though I’ve been reminding her every minute for the past 10. She knows I get frustrated and feel like an inadequate mom when I’ve put her to bed at 8:30 and she’s still up 3 hours later. And she may have ended up crying (loudly) at day camp this week because she couldn’t make a Loch ness Monster out of beads as “perfect” as she wanted it to be.
But she also knows how to help. She also understands that taking care of peoples’ feelings is important. When she prays she asks that our family can have help choosing the right and having the Holy Ghost in our home. When she is her best self she cleans my room and decorates it for me with streamers, art and her favorite stuffed animals. She holds me extra long when we hug and loves looking at the freckles scattered across my cheeks.
And, I love looking at hers. I love her. I am so thankful she is in my life and I am lucky to call her mine. Like anyone with a Special Needs child knows, “Special Needs” simultaneously is and isn’t what they are. Because they are so much MORE than a label or acronym.
And yet, they are definitely, gloriously, special.