Resolutions of a 40-year-old Special Needs Mom

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...

Do they ever stick?  Honestly?  Nope.  With my 40th birthday looming, I recently had an epiphany and realized WHY I need to cling tightly to those resolutions.

I am a Special Needs Mother.  If I don’t strive to take great care of myself and to live a healthier life, I am doing a selfish injustice not only to myself, but to my children.

They will depend on me for many, many years to come and the fear of aging and turning 40 is quite frightening.

I have no desire to have the body of a fashion model or to fit into a size zero.  Those are both unreasonable and laughably unfeasible goals for me.

I have a much bigger picture that is driving me to sincerely want to do better.  Out on a brisk walk with my husband this week, I felt a bit winded as I took in the beautiful scenery and the fresh air around me.

In that moment, I thought of our children and reality hit me.  I NEED to be doing this, working on my cardiovascular health, every day.

The grim truth is that I need to do EVERYTHING in my power to remain here, for as close to forever, as I possibly can.

With every sip of soda that I drink, instead of water, I am starting to imagine the havoc likely being wreaked on my kidneys.

While my daughter with multiple physical and intellectual disabilities only has one kidney, I work diligently to maintain her kidney health.  What if she were to need one of mine someday?

That may seem a little far off to worry about now, but it certainly is on my mind and I find myself reaching for that bottle of water more easily today, rather than my habitual Coca-Cola.

While my daughter is only seven, and still weighs under 40 pounds, I can feel the strain on my back from lifting and transferring already.

I don’t strive to have a weight lifter’s bulky physique, but I feel the desperate need to strengthen my back.

I will carry that princess as long as my back holds out; and I need to ensure that it holds out indefinitely.

My son is thirteen and quite an intelligent young man.  He is also on the Autism Spectrum.

While he has a much higher level of independence than his little sister, I still shoulder great worry for him.

Wherever life may take him, I long to be here to love and support him.

Lately, with the New Year and 40 approaching, I feel compelled to do all that I can to stay on this Earth as long as possible.

The agonizing fear of ever leaving them behind is too much to bear.

They say that there is no time like the present.  Now is the time for change, as I feel 40 quickly sneaking up on me.  The invincibility I felt in my twenties and thirties has vanished.

I want to be here for a very long time, as a Mom, as a caregiver, and as a partner to my husband.  My family is my world.

This year, more than ever, I will work hard to hold on to my New Year’s Resolutions, and to finally convert them into a new way of living.


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