I used to look at New Year’s Day as a new beginning; a fresh start. Since becoming a special needs parent, the celebration of New Year’s means nothing to me. I know that sounds harsh but, before you call me a party pooper, hear me out…
Parenting a child with special needs changes your perspective on everything, including the passing of time and the concept of hope. For me, having children with Autism means that I don’t look at life in terms of years; in the scope of typical milestones. My children’s ability to master developmental milestones doesn’t follow the timeline that society deems “typical” (whatever that is). They work much harder to acquire certain skills that come easily to most other children, and some skills may never come. Every day brings with it great joy, but also great struggles. I live my life one moment at a time. I have to. The future is, in many ways, uncertain and terrifying…so, I leave it in the hands of God. I don’t look too far forward, or I fall into the abyss of “what ifs”. It’s because of this perspective that no achievement is too small to celebrate and no one day means starting over to me. Every moment is a chance to begin again.
As God so lovingly points out in His Word, my life is “like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (James 4:14) Nothing is guaranteed. Waiting until January 1st to do the things God’s placed on my heart to do, to me, seems foolish now. God has taught me, through my children’s struggles, that now is the best time to be who I want to be and do what I want to do; to fulfill my calling. I need to give this very moment my all, because this very moment is all I have.
When I see life through the lens of special needs parenting, I realize that nothing is what it seems to my merely mortal eyes. There are layers and layers of blessing hidden even in tragedy. God’s plans extend far beyond my concept of time and will prevail despite all of my mistakes and sinful ways. I don’t need to make resolutions for the next year, I need to make choices for the next hour. This is one of the many blessings of being a parent to children with special needs…My soul is imprinted with the truth that my hope is in Him, not in any date on the calendar.