Special needs

An open letter to my daughter on her fifth birthday

"You gave us the biggest gift of all: a new perspective that allows us to live in the present—in an honest and vulnerable way."

Syona-birthday-feature

Syona, on her fifth birthday. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Dear Syona,

Your birthday is always the most meaningful day of the year in my books. It brings up so many emotions.

Today, I think back to how much you’ve accomplished in the past five years.

You’ve gone from a little girl we thought may be non-verbal to a total chatterbox whose favourite word right now is “actually.” You’re learning how fun it is to move yourself around in your wheelchair. I love watching you find your footing when playing with other kids.

You’ve always been social, confident and strong-willed. Sometimes those qualities make it hard to parent you, but they’re qualities that will benefit you so much in the long run. Over the years, I’ve had a chance to observe other kids with cerebral palsy who are a few years older than you. I’ve seen some of them grow shyer, quieter and a little less strong-willed. I wonder whether it comes from the realization that they’re different from other kids. Regardless, I hope and pray it doesn’t happen to you.

Yes, you are different in a way that is easily visible to people. But the truth is that we’re all different from one another. Difference isn’t a bad thing and it doesn’t make you any more or less important than the next person. It only makes our world more rich and diverse. You contribute to that directly. That is powerful and awesome.

I want you to know that the way I feel about your disabilities isn’t necessarily how you will feel about your disabilities. And that’s OK. My experience will be that of the parent of a kid with special needs, while yours will be an experience as a person with disabilities. I won’t pretend to understand what that feels like for you, but I will share my feelings with you openly when it is appropriate. I will strive to understand and help you with your feelings when needed and wanted.

This day is my favourite day, Syona. Not only because you were born, but because you made our family stronger. You helped us realize just how precious and fleeting life can be, and made us reflect on our lives and the things that matter most. You gave us the biggest gift of all: a new perspective that allows us to live in the present, in an honest and vulnerable way. Our lives are so much richer because of you.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl.

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary five-year-old with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.

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