Their are many cries after a delivery. The first cry, usually the infant's followed by it's parents and down the line as each family member and friend meets the child for the first time. The first cry is life itself. When something goes wrong either during pregnancy or during delivery, parental affection does not end. A parent's job from the moment of conception or adoption is to be that child's protector and guardian. Heartstrings are quickly attached, so strong that no one can sever them. From that last push to that baby's first cry the mother is bound by eternal love for her child. Healthy or not, that baby is a part of the mother and of course the father too. Parent's want what is best for their child.
Parent's dream of idyllic children who effortlessly pass through each phase of life, filled with accomplishments and many friends. If you read Facebook or letters included in holiday cards, pages are filled with joy and accolades of how well the children and grandchildren have done and how beautiful they are. Every child is a gift to be cherished.
However, in reality, at any stage in life, learning issues, illness or accidents can strike. Then what? Are these children any less accomplished or lovely? Absolutely not. These children become champions who should be marveled for their for their strength, endurance, and tenacity. They are the ones who should be showcased for setting the standards that we should all follow. These kids are the ones with a strong work ethic because each day is a struggle and instead of giving up they forge ahead just to make through another day. The parents who step up to the plate and stand by their child are heroes. Having a sick or disabled child takes an enormous amount of energy. The whole world expects the parents to go on as usual when in reality their brains are racing trying to figure out the best way to help their child, while their stomachs churn from anxiety and their hearts are heavy and dark except for the one pink spot that is their child. Their child beats life into their tired hearts. It's a funny thing but no matter what else is happening in the world, when a parent sees their child, love takes over. Love is what makes that parent fight for answers. Love is
what gets the child through every day because s/he knows that at the end of it mom and dad are still going to be there to say "I love you," just like they have every day since that first cry.
While all disabilities and illnesses test the human spirit, it's the invisible ones that come late in childhood or young adulthood that really test those heartstrings. When mental illnesses like: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder,anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, depression with or without suicidal idealization...etc. take over the child's brain the heartstrings are really tugged on. Through no fault of their own these seemingly healthy children can become strangers. These hidden illnesses change them in ways that are out of their control. They may hurt themselves, physically or with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to soothe themselves. They may push those closest to them away. They may do things that make absolutely no sense to anybody but themselves. This is where friends and family walk away saying things to parents like, "Stop enabling", "S/he needs to knock it off, "S/he needs to grow-up," or "Let go before your life is ruined." To these parents I say, "trust your heart and your instincts." Parents are their child's strongest advocate. They know their child better than anyone else. These parents are heroes who never stop believing in their child. They listen to the professionals but still trust their own instincts to get the best services for their child. These parents listen to their kids. These parents know that when their child's behavior changes it's not because the child is bad, it's because something is not right in the child's world. Instead of blaming the child, that parent will once again do the spectacular work that super parents do and find out why that child is behaving this way and will begin a crusade to get the child what s/he needs to bring stability to his/her world again. People forget that parents have known their children since that first cry.
The first cry is life itself and there will hopefully be thousands more before the last. To all of the parents who advocate for their children through ever tear, this special educator cries "Thank you."
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