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He will never be able to ride a bike. Will anyone besides me ever be able to love him?
These are all horrible thoughts that immediately flooded my mind after I got my son Daniel’s Down syndrome diagnosis. I have since learned these thoughts are not at all uncommon for parents who just found our their child will have special needs.
You go through a mourning process. You grieve the “perfect” child, the "perfect" family, the "perfect" life you thought you would have.
Then you realize regardless of your messy thoughts, there is still a child who needs care. So you put on your mommy (or daddy) pants and research the best specialists, therapies, and learning tools. But no matter how much you do for your child it will never feel like enough. You struggle with a never-ending guilt.
And then, the miracles. Your child does everything you thought he never would – and probably even more.
They ride their bikes.
They have friends. Lots of them.
And, even though you now fear the idea of setting your child free into the world, you might even have to deal with the loneliness of living without them after they choose to leave the nest.
And even if they don’t do everything you hoped they would, you love them more than anything in the whole world. You start to see them as “perfect” as they are – in spite of, and because of YOU. Because love is seeing an imperfect person (which, let’s face it, is all of us) perfectly.
Dear special-needs parents, you're doing a good job
What raising a child with Down syndrome is REALLY like (in pictures)
What it's like being "trapped" in a special-needs marriage
Images and videos by Whitney Barthel
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.