Resilience is one of the things that having a child with special needs teaches you. We get so many knocks along the way. just when you think that things are settled and you are heading for a period of stability, then wham something unexpected will knock you off your feet. Yet with practice over the years, special-needs parents learn how to pick themselves up off the floor and how to carry on. They say that ‘whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger’ and that might well be the case. When you have fought tooth and nail to get your son into the best school, or when you have made the painful decision to opt for brain surgery, then other setbacks pale in comparison. It certainly helps you not to worry about insignificant problems, as these are put firmly into context as you focus on what really matters.
I do not think that having Joshua has made me tougher, but it has certainly made me think differently about the everyday problems that come and go. I can recall a friend who had her baby at the same time as Joshua was born, telling me that I had the right personality to cope with him, whereas she was a nervous wreck and would worry continuously. I may well have the right outlook for survival, but she would have changed, as I have done, if she had been lucky enough to have been Joshua’s mum. I can also recall going for a walk with my mother in law up our lane, just as Joshua had learnt to walk in his new splints and she was gasping with anxiety at every step, terrified that he was going to fall, yet I was letting him run. Another friend was hovering around the trampoline ready to ctach my bouncing son if he should tumble off, amazed at how casual I was about the potential risk. But I was focussed on the fun he was having in both cases, which seemed to me to be worth the risk.
I am not immune to anxiety but I do seem to have developed a knack of taking many of the challenges that we face with Joshua, into my stride, probably for survival. I was dreading letting Joshua go away for respite for instance, initially I resisted it like mad, but now that I have satisfied myself that he is both happy and safe there, I have no more concerns and we look forward to the break, as we should do. I no longer sit beside my phone in case of emergencies, I am much more relaxed about being apart from Joshua as I have complete faith in his carers there.
None of us know what is around the corner, but hopefully when we get there, we will face it head on and even if it knocks us off our feet, I have no doubt that I will get up again as that’s just what we do.