Living for the Little Things

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...

Yet, even though my life isn’t filled with these typical moments of celebration like I once imagined, I have learned that there is great beauty in recognizing and celebrating the little things.

In fact, the little things are what I now truly live for.

Being a special needs parent requires reassessing situations continuously and never giving up.

My daughter is five and a half and she is unable to walk or talk. Making connections takes a great deal of repetition for her. 

Instead of days or weeks being poured into learning a new skill, we will put in years. 

We started working on sit to stand transfers three years ago.  For three years we diligently practiced this, having her pull up to a standing position from sitting on a bench. 

I was overcome with pride when I finally had the privilege of watching my daughter stand upright, holding onto her walker for four whole minutes!

This accomplishment took my breath away and solidified the fact that hard work eventually leads to incredible rewards. 

Seeing the look of joy on her face as she stood there, asserting her independence, was a moment of true celebration.

She is filled with love and light.

She adores being held and cuddled tightly.

There have been times when I have felt great sadness over never hearing her speak the words, “I love you.”

Thankfully, over time I’ve learned to open my eyes and my heart to see and embrace the little things.

This year, she has started to display affection with us in the most beautiful way. When I give her kisses and tell her, “I love you”, she reciprocates by taking my hand with her tiny hands and pulling it to her face.

She will cradle my hand to her face, holding it there sweetly against her cheek. The only way to describe it is magical.

There are so many little things that I now live for...

Watching her small fingers move as I sing, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”…

Seeing her initiate steps while harnessed atop a treadmill during Physical Therapy…

Laughing as she grins and claps in excitement when she sees her reflection in a mirror, or when I ask if she wants to read her favorite book. 

They say that life isn’t measured in the number of breaths that we take, but in the moments that leave us breathless. She has taught me how true this is. 

Graciously, I have encountered countless moments like this with my daughter. 

I would compare them to watching a sunrise; I am captivated by them and feel such an appreciation for them. 

Life is even better when you live for the little things. 

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