My son turned 19 today. I can’t believe 19 years have passed since I became a mother for the first time. My Thomas. The one who made me grow up and become an advocate. I wasn’t looking to be anything other than a mother in those days.  I certainly wasn’t looking to be the mother of a special needs child. That was not in the “plan”. As if it’s in anybody’s plan when you start your family . I once read on a special needs parenting message board, “when you agree to become a mother you essentially agree to become the mother of a special needs child…” Meaning you usually don’t know that that child will have issues, or something to that effect, the exact words escape me. I’m not sure I agree with that statement but I’ve never forgotten it.

Being Thomas’ mom changed me. To this day I’m still being changed and challenged and growing and grieving. I don’t think the grieving ever stops when your child is special needs. You never stop wondering the what ifs. We have the added bonus of having to trust virtual strangers to care for our child since he cannot live at home. We have been blessed with the residential facility that Thomas lives at. These “strangers” have earned our respect and many times when we are fortunate enough to see the staff that cares for our son, we are more than happy to be in their presence. More than happy to inquire about their well being. I’m happy to be on a first name basis with the social workers and charge nurse. I’m very happy to be on the receiving end of a hug or kiss hello from them. It’s been 3 years this June that Thomas entered the residential facility and I’m extremely happy to say for the most part it’s been an uneventful 3 years in that there hasn’t been any emergencies or drama or situations to make us unhappy.

This 19th birthday also marks three years that I’ve been treated for depression and anxiety. I first sought help before Thomas’ 16th birthday.  I’m thrilled to be feeling as well as I do. It’s been a long road and now that I am in the light I don’t mind talking about the dark times. I don’t want to dwell on those times but if my writing about my dark time can help someone else and know they’re not alone it’s worth it. 3 years ago I never thought I’d be where I am today.

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