Raising a special needs child in this modern world is not easy.
I lived a fast-paced life. Cramming 48-hour tasks in a 24-hour day, even sacrificing rest and family time, just to get something done was my norm. I barely had time to appreciate the sunrise nor the sunset or even enjoy a cup of coffee without trying to finish another task.
However, I needed to make drastic changes to my fast-paced lifestyle when my son was born.
You see, my son, Zaine, was born with Down syndrome. It is a genetic disorder that is usually associated with delayed physical development and learning disability. At 3 years old, my son is not yet potty trained, still needs help in feeding and changing his clothes. He’s starting to imitate words now, but he is still considered non-verbal. At his age, his developmental age is equivalent to that of a 16-month old.
Having a child with special needs throws a big curve ball in the fast-paced, tight schedule that I used to have. And realizing that made me reassess the way I live my life. While I cannot change the pace of the world we live in, I realized that I had to learn to slow down and prioritize what is really important. And my son is the most important.
As a parent, it is my duty to teach my child, but my son has been teaching me a lot of things that I have long forgotten.
He is teaching me patience. With all the technology nowadays that allows us to do our tasks quicker and more efficient, I tend to be impatient with things or situations that would make me wait. But when I had Zaine, I needed to learn how to be patient as I try to teach him a concept repeatedly, over and over again, until he understands it.
He is teaching me to appreciate the small things. I used to only have eyes on the big prize. I did not recognize a small accomplishment as real accomplishment because I was aiming for a higher one. With Zaine, as he hits his milestones – may it be as simple as learning how to sit down or stand up or putting his nappy in the trash – I have learned to celebrate it. As they say, every small thing leads to greater things. At the end of the day, it is the small things that really matter.
He is teaching me to slow down. I really struggled with my schedule when I had Zaine, being the workaholic that I used to be. But as time passes, I have learned to take a rest in between my tasks and I have learned to set aside the non-important ones to spend more time with my son. Not everything can be accomplished just because we’ve set a very tight deadline. Sometimes, the longer it takes do things, the better the outcome will be. And the same is true with Zaine. It is not possible to fast-track his progress just because I want him to reach a developmental age equal to his actual age. He has his own timeline in achieving every milestone and what I could only do is to slow my own pace down and match his until such time that he can go faster.
In this fast-paced world that we live in, let’s take time to slow down to appreciate the small things. Let’s watch the sunset even for a few minutes before we go make that dinner. Let’s take that time away from our computer screens and spend time with our kids playing on the floor. Forget about work during the weekend and go run in the park or watch a movie with your child. And just like what I have learned from the latest McDonald’s commercial, let’s celebrate each milestone no matter how big or small they might be.
Once in a while, let’s stop and smell the roses. Who knows, we may enjoy it.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by McDonald’s. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.