Special needs

Special-needs parenting: Small steps, big triumphs

Anchel Krishna shares a touching, everyday moment that took her by surprise this week.

1Anchel

Syona. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

It was Thursday afternoon, and I was on my way home from an appointment to test whether or not I have asthma (I don’t have full-blown asthma, but I do have lungs that react to irritants in a mild asthma-like way—in case you were curious). As I was driving down the main street running through the centre of our subdivision, I was stuck behind a yellow school bus making its stops. At one particularly busy stop, about 10 kids got out and were greeted by a multicultural mix of parents, grandparents and caregivers. It was the perfect scene to advertise our family-friendly, wonderfully diverse community filled with loving families.

I looked at these kids and it was just so amazing—a sunny spring day with children celebrating the freedom of being done with school for the day. They were so happy they skipped—literally skipped—down the street. And it felt like a kick to the stomach that left me completely winded. I looked at these kids and realized that Syona will likely never skip down the street like that. Despite the fact that I accept her as she is, and have gotten over my fear of dreaming big for Syona, this one stung a bit.

I’ve talked before about the process of grieving. And I’ve also talked about how that grieving happens over and over again—sometimes in big ways, and sometimes in small ways. Last Thursday was definitely one of the small moments. My head knew that Syona will have (and has already had) moments that are just as joyous as those the little ones heading down the street were experiencing. I also recognize that parenting a child with special needs provides us with many moments that take our breath away in a good way, and we had one of those moments last week, too.

Syona was at my workplace for a visit and I ended up leaving her with one of my colleagues for a few moments as I packed up my stuff for the day. As I was in my office I heard Syona and my colleague having a conversation about how she took the elevator and not the stairs. It was such a beautiful experience that it brought tears to my eyes. A year-and-a-half ago we were wondering whether Syona would ever be able to communicate verbally, and here I was eavesdropping on an actual conversation she was having with someone she has only met a handful of times. It was beauty and joy at its absolute finest.

Parenting is about balance, taking the good with the bad and doing the best you can. Sometimes the moments that show us both sides of the coin happen simultaneously, and sometimes they follow each other. But the good moments almost always overshadow the bad ones.

What are some parenting moments that have taken your breath away?

If you’re in the Belleville, Ontario area on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 come meet me at an interactive session about parenting a child with special needs. Details and RSVP here.