Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Phases of Maturity: A Special Needs Dad
Three Phases of a being a Special Needs Dad(Or Parent)...As I see it.
Phase One - Sorrow
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have a little sadness when our child is diagnosed with a disorder or born "non-typical". During the time I was a cop, I considered myself to be pretty tough. I'm not the strongest guy on the planet, but I could hold my own. I had to for survival, literally. I've been in more struggles with suspects than I care to count and have been called just about every name in the book. Some of those names aren't even in the book they're so bad. On a side note, I wasn't very good at foot chases. I think I was only 50% successful when someone ran from me. God didn't bless me with speed, just saying.
Even as tough as I thought I was as a cop, nothing I've been trained to do or any of my experience on the street prepared me for when Carly was diagnosed. We knew she had problems at 8 weeks old because that was her first seizure. Even after her seizures began, I thought it would be something I can control. I'm a dad. A cop(at the time). I can handle any situation. After all, that's what I've been trained to do for years. Of course I can fix it, that's what daddy's do. They fix things.
When Carly was diagnosed with CDKL5 on Feb. 22nd 2012 it was devastating. Crushing in fact. I already had a older son and everything was perfect. No way something is wrong with my daughter. Well, it was true. There is no cure for CDKL5. No treatments. Nothing. Heck, there are only approx. 1000 in the world.
The following weeks after getting the news and it sinking in I did what all real men do...I cried. In fact, I cried several different times. Listening to a song would make me cry. Just seeing things I thought Carly would never be able to do made me cry. I don't really know how long I grieved. But I did and it was necessary. It was almost cleansing to a point.
Grieving, I believe, is part of maturity of being a special needs father. None of us are too tough to cry. It's okay. Let it go. Your mind and soul will tell you when this phase is over and all dads are different. I'm sure there are some dads that read this and say they didn't have a sad phase they went through. If so, they are way tougher than me.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
**Important to note: If you are depressed please seek professional help.**
Phase Two - Acceptance
Acceptance is the hardest phase. Accepting is understanding the reality of a situation and knowing there is nothing you can do about it. As mentioned above, to us dad's, that's not a pill easily swallowed. For me, it was a little easier accepting my families situation. Why? Because I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe we have all of our children for a reason, typical or non-typical. I thought it was for the reason I had planned, but with Carly its obviously not the case. God tells us that our lives are not our own plan, it's His plan. If you don't know Jesus, introduce yourself.
Just remember every child on this planet has a purpose and contributes to our society no matter capabilities. Keep in mind, God doesn't create disabled souls. Once you accept this fact, you can begin to live your life.... once again.
Proverbs 19:21 - Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails"
Phase Three - Life
After you have taken time to cry and accept what you have been given, only then can you start living again. Take this opportunity to look at yourself differently. Look at others in a different way. Look at life with love in your heart because Love is the only thing that will prevail. You have a purpose. You're the lucky father of a special needs child! That child is teaching you things you would have never learned and giving you knowledge you would have never sought after if it wasn't for them. What an honor!
For the record, I still cry, I still pray for God to give me the strength to accept what He has placed before me. I also pray God shows me the Love for all people no matter what walk of life they may have come from. Just because we complete a phase of maturity doesn't mean it won't be revisited many times throughout our lives. And don't think I haven't thought about losing Carly at a young age. Happens all the time. What comforts me? Carly has a free pass into Heaven to touch the face of God. To lay in the lap of the Lord and wait on her parents and siblings. Just like all children. How awesome is that?
There is HOPE and LIFE right around the corner waiting on you.
Jeremiah 29:11- "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope."