The Mixed Emotions of Special Needs Parenting

I don’t know how to feel. I am literally torn. Part of me is beaming with pride, another part of me is fuming with anger, another part of me is shaking with fear and then there is that part of me that is just plain exhausted.

All because of a box of cereal.

We keep our cereal in a revolving cabinet in the kitchen called a lazy susan. There is nothing lazy about it when it comes to my youngest child, Willow. It seems like any time we’re not looking, she runs to the lazy susan, grabs a box of cereal, darts off to another room and attempts to empty it’s contents all over the floor while laughing.


Ok, I admit, the first couple of times she did this, I laughed too. She’s so cute! And, might I add, I’m new at this parenting thing. Ok, that’s a lie. I’m not new at this parenting thing. She’s my third child. I’m just embarrassed because I know I shouldn’t have laughed!!! SHE’S JUST SO CUTE!!!


While Willow is still cute, the whole chasing after her part is becoming exhausting. And, it happens at the worst times, like when I’m trying to make dinner or breakfast. Obviously, I’m no longer laughing.

Then came this morning…

As I was redirecting Willow for what seemed like the fifteenth time, she giggled, put her hands in the air and screamed “I naughty!”

Say what?

This is where the mixed emotions come in.

Willow isn’t like most 3 1/2 year old’s. Her Down syndrome has significantly delayed her speech. In fact, I had considered her mostly non-verbal up until a couple months ago. Sign language was her primary means of communication. Add to that the fact that she’s been unable to go to private speech therapy for more than a month now thanks to a crazy insurance mess out of our control.

I can’t say I was surprised to hear my daughter saying she was naughty. I’m pretty sure I had called her that a few times as she tried to sneak the cereal this morning. But, boy, I will say those words caught me off guard.

Every new word Willow speaks is music to my ears. Even the ones that lead to me cleaning up spilled cereal.

These are the crazy mixed emotions we feel as parents of special needs children.

Another example happened a few weeks ago, when Willow learned how to open our back door for the first time. She had been playing with that handle since the day we moved into this house 6 months ago. I knew it was only a matter of time.


Once again, I felt pride that she had finally figured it out. Then, the fear set in. I know many of our special kiddos are prone to wander. Will she be one of them? Lord, I pray not. Then, I quickly got on my phone and looked up child proof locks for french door handles on Amazon.

Those darn mixed emotions.

Willow, meantime, grabbed her hat and mittens and headed for door to practice her new skill again. She was stopped by the little lock on the handle. She hasn’t figured that one out yet.


Give her time.


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