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The Left Hand Path

Updated on March 18, 2011

My plan was to turn right at the fork in the road.  The problem was, there was something blocking the path to the right.  So, I had to turn left.  The path to the right was smooth and easy going.  The path to the left has turned out to be bumpy, difficult to see through and generally down-right hard to navigate.  The path to the left was not what I signed up for.  I wanted the calmness that the road to the right offered.  But, I have been forced down the left-hand path.  And, so, my journey covers the left hand side.

It may seem as though I am talking about a difficult hike.  I am not.  I am talking about the life encompassing journey of having a special needs child. 

We love our children before they are born.  We work to give them the best.  We research just the right car seat, what crib is the safest, we delicately decide on the theme of the nursery, we spend months choosing just the right name, and we make sure that they receive the best medical care we can give them before they are even born.  We fight for them.  We protect them.  We love them.

When life throws a monkey wrench into those plans, we pick it up and find out what to do with it.  It is for the sake of our child.  It might mean taking the time away from other things that we love and need.  But once we are traveling down our rocky path and are sure of our footing—or at least as much as we can be—we can get back to fitting into life. 

We find a way to not only figure out how to take care of ourselves, but to take care of our child.  We turn towards educating others on our child and of educating our child on others.  Life isn’t going to be easy on the left hand path for either the parent or the child, but we make it work.  We continue to research and find the just right…whatever.  We continue to discover the best medical treatments/therapies available for our child.  We continue to fight for them.  We continue to protect them.  And we always love them, perhaps even, just a little bit more. 

We do our best to turn our heads away from those that give judgmental, glaring looks at our child’s invisible handicaps.  We ignore those who won’t make eye contact to our child’s obvious handicaps.  We cry only when our kids aren’t around at the hurt they feel, for that is a parent’s greatest hurt.  We search out those who might be able to understand.  We try not to belittle our child’s issues just because someone else’s issues are greater and we try not to dismiss someone whose issue are less because our child must deal with more.

It is a difficult path. One very few choose. But once you start down the path of having a special needs child, you find that every step gives a greater sense of accomplishment. The harder it is, the greater the reward. You might take it for granted when your child says “mama” at 11 months old, but it doesn’t feel as good as when your child says “mama” for the first time at 3 ½ years old.  The hugs we don't receive freely are treasured all that much more. I am happy for you that you are able to travel down the right hand path, but don’t feel bad for me that I am on the left hand path. Just understand that I didn’t choose it, that my child didn’t choose it, and that a little understanding and patience will help us get down the left hand path just that much easily.

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