Daddy’s The One That Makes Her Laugh - Raising Children with Disabilities

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

With my husband and my daughter, it's clear to see the heart-holding is mutual.

My daughter is a spunky, happy, loving four year old.

Although she is small, she has a joyful personality that is larger than life.

She also happens to have very special needs.

There are mountainous hurdles that she must overcome every day.

Her Daddy is a Triathlete that pushes his body to the limits…she has his same dauntlessness and tenacity.

She can be sitting perfectly still and content playing her little piano, until her Daddy walks into the room.

Her happiness then can't be contained!

"Da-Da" is the only word she speaks, and she says it with excitement, very loudly and deliberately, when he's in view.

When he is sitting on the floor with her, he is her jungle gym.

I watch them closely...she reaches up and touches his face.

They look at each other, having a whole conversation without uttering a word.

He calls her a silly name and she erupts in belly-shaking, breathtaking laughter.

The interaction between them is beautiful and I never grow tired of watching it.

It is an ongoing joke (truth) in our house...she loves her Daddy best!

I will try my hardest to earn a smile or a giggle; he elicits them with ease, effortlessly!

All he has to do is look at her or call her name and she goes all starry-eyed.

It is obvious how tightly they hold each other’s hearts.

There are often times that my heart aches for him and for the typical father/daughter moments that disability will take away from them.

The traditional father/daughter dance, planning for college, buying her first car and walking her down the aisle are all milestones of life that are heartbreakingly unfeasible.

Those topics are ones we don’t talk about often.

They are a part of reality that we can’t dwell on.

They’re acknowledged and pushed out of our minds for now.

Our thoughts never tarry there.

Seeing this duo together, I witness wonderful moments unfolding before me.

And I look forward to all those ahead that they will experience together...moments that fathers of typical daughters could truly never understand or fully appreciate.

She will hold his hand a lot longer...he will sing her lullabies and rock her to sleep longer...she will reach her arms up to him for snuggles and cuddles longer….he will make her laugh until her face is bright red, with a single look, longer.

He will remain her undeniable hero and her fierce protector for much longer.

What society deems as imperfection, makes her all the more perfect to her Daddy.

Theirs is truly a love like no other.

Every day I am lucky to watch her with the one that makes her laugh.


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