Growing Pains

Hello Interweb! It has been a while…two months to be exact. I wanted to write about how great Christmas was around here, but life events got in the way of that. Two days after Christmas we hopped on a plane to go to Drew’s wedding. There was no time for an update when a wedding was taking place!

I am inserting a short wedding paragraph here that has nothing to do with the point of this post, it just makes me happy. Drew and Lindsey were married just outside of Austin the first week of January. It was beautiful and warm and outside – in January! I mentioned that, right? Lindsey was a gorgeous bride and Drew was a handsome groom. Lindsey’s parents thought of every detail and the day was just perfect. When their official wedding photos are back, I will post more about this joyous occasion. For now, I’ll just put this picture here because it makes me smile.

Drew and Lindsey Penrod

Back to what actually motivated me to write today. (Although writing about the wedding is way more exciting.) Today I wanted to write about some things I am learning about myself in this role of being a parent of a special needs child.

By nature, I am a peacemaker. I do not like confrontation. I want everyone to get along and like one another. I am the one introducing herself to those I do not know. I am also the person introducing new people to those who they have not met to make sure everyone feels comfortable in a new situation. This may be a result of having been a military kid and moving every two years until college. It could also be the result of being a military spouse and working hard to meet people and make connections before it was time to move again. I suspect it is likely a combination of both those things.

I tell you this because as the parent of a complex child (I think I will go with that description of Zack for now), I have had to stretch myself and learn to be OK with people not always liking me. In order to effectively advocate for my child, I have had to learn that I cannot always please everyone. There are times when I have to confront others for Zack’s sake. It is uncomfortable. It is out of character for me and it requires a level of strength and courage I am still learning to find.

I think I will always care about what people think of me. I try my best to make sure that I am honest with my speech, kind with my words and thoughtful of others. My main job at the moment, however, is to be a voice for Zack so he can get the support he needs to become the person he is called to be.

Almost every night before bed we ask him, “What is the most important thing about you, Zack?” He replies, “That I am a child of God and that I am your son.” Although the question is asked of Zack, it is a daily reminder for me as well. I have been called to be Zack’s Mom. To love and protect him. To operate on less sleep than a new mom — for years on end. To learn as much as I can about the gastrointestinal system. To continue to fight for him over and over again when it would be so much easier to quit. It can be an overwhelming, stressful, lonely, and exhausting job. It stretches me and forces me to grow in ways that make me uncomfortable.

And yet….here I am. Each new battle helps me to grow stronger (and not just because I have to work off my stress by exercising), to learn something new about myself (some not so pleasant things as well), and to keep fighting for Zack. So, bring on the growing pains! But please… not all at once!

Zack after killing it at the wedding. His shirt was tucked in for the ceremony and he did NOT wear that hat until the reception.

Hug your babies!

~ Dawn

2 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. Thank you for being so willing to share your story. In case you haven’t been told this in a while, you are an amazing person. And a fierce Momma. God bless you!

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