Lessons I’ve Learned from My Kids

Jennifer Arnold by Jennifer Arnold Additional Needs

Jennifer Arnold

Jennifer Arnold

I’m passionate about raising awareness about disability issues through education and outreach. When I’m not wearing my writer hat, I’m usually tryi...

I’ve learned a lot in the past 14 years of being a Mom.

Raising children with multiple medical and behavioral issues forces you to take stock of your life and realize what really matters.

I’ve lost count of the lessons that my kids have taught me along the way, but these are some of the biggest ones:

Unconditional love. To love unconditionally means accepting our children entirely and without restrictions or stipulations.

Many parents of children with special needs go through a grieving process upon learning of their child’s diagnosis- I know I did.

After the initial shock wore off, there was never a doubt in my mind that I would accept everything about my child, no matter how challenging.

Unconditional love also goes both ways.

For both of my kids with special needs, I am their person.

No matter how much of a hot mess I am, no matter how grumpy and exhausted I can be, I’m the one they come to find when they need something, whether it be a snack or a hug.

I secretly love this, even though there are times when they will literally search the whole house for me- when my husband is 3 feet away from them and perfectly willing and capable of tending to their needs.

My kids have taught me perseverance.

They have to try twice as hard to accomplish many things that come so easily to their peers.

It’s often a challenging, frustrating road that comes with its share of bumps.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s ok to back off and that they will do things in their own time and their own way, and they have rarely proved me wrong. 

I’ve also learned the art of perseverance in fighting tooth and nail for their rights for over a decade.

Speaking of rights, one of the most important things my kids have taught me is to speak up and advocate.

I learned early on that I was their voice, and if I didn’t speak up, no one else would.

Becoming an advocate for them was equal parts difficult and effortless.

It was difficult because I am an introvert and used to avoid confrontation at all costs.

It’s effortless because not standing up for my babies was never an option.

When I became a parent, I never envisioned that my kids would teach me more than I could ever hope to teach them.

And there’s still a lifetime of lessons to learn.

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