“I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” Mitch Albom
With my recent job change in the field of disability, I have found myself pondering more intensely your journey as a mother to a son who happens to have a disability. Your love and devotion to him (and to me) has guided us to who we are today.
Raising a child with a disability is not an easy feat. The emotions, the courage, the many “appointments,” the heartache, the joy, the losing of relationships, the gaining of relationships, the laughter, the change, the frustration, the hope, the isolation, the navigation of “systems,” the sacrifice, and the love. . .it is all encompassing and it consumes you.
As a mom of a little guy, I often wonder what it would be like to be in your shoes 33 years ago. Knowing there was something different with your child, but not finding answers. Getting a diagnosis, but receiving an unacceptable option by professionals. Rather than the accepting the offered institution, you chose an unpaved path, a lot of hard work and freedom for your child. The value of your choice is beyond measure. Because of his success and independence today, it is easy to forget the pioneering decisions you made so long ago.
Thank you for believing in yourself.
Thank you for being a tireless advocate for my brother.
Thank you for persevering through difficult times.
Thank you for setting expectations – high expectations – for him.
Thank you for allowing him to fail.
Thank you for giving him dignity.
Thank you for having the foresight to prepare him for independence.
Thank you for not stifling his ambition and dreams.
Thank you for asking for help when you needed it, but never expecting others to replace you.
Thank you for working tirelessly to help him achieve his goals.
Thank you for helping him spread his wings and letting him go.
Today, his future continues to be bright because of you. While the road traveled was not easy, the difficulty of the past and ongoing struggles of the present will never outweigh the benefits and extraordinary pleasures of having a son/brother who happens to have a disability. I have learned some of life’s greatest lessons from the both of you. You have taught me lessons in tolerance and compassion for others. He has echoed to me the value of individuality. You have instilled in me a sense of empowerment. And he has given me purpose and passion for my own life.
You (and the many moms like you) are the unrecognized miracle workers!
Kylee Hope is a daughter, sister, and mother; and director of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services