‘As a Family, There Was Never a Woe-Is-Me Attitude’

Mother of two sons, including one who is developmentally disabled, shares gratitude, hope, optimism — and spunk

Being a mom is the most fulfilling and yet hardest job a woman will ever do.

Having the baby is the easiest part. The journey that follows is like riding a roller coaster — there will be many loops and turns over which you have no control.

No one can prepare you for this ride, and when something unexpected happens, chaos can ensue. I have two boys, Casey and Christian. Casey is 25 now and lives at home with us; Christian is 22 and a college student. Casey is learning and developmentally disabled — and what a journey it has been, not just for him but for the whole family.

When I was a young girl, I had all these expectations about what my life was going to be. I was not going to struggle in life and everything I ever dreamed of was going to come easy to me. Boy, am I laughing now.

The author with her oldest son, Casey (photo credit: Kathy Chlan’s YouTube page)

But raising my boys has been the greatest accomplishment of my life. And the funny thing is, I wouldn’t change a thing. They are both extraordinary, caring and respectful young men. In this day and age, I think that’s so rare.

I am so not patting myself on the back, because there was so much adversity in our family that we had to deal with. But that is what we did — we pulled up our boots and got on with it. As a family, there was never a “woe is me” attitude. Believe me, I thank our therapist every day.

I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned a lot about being a mom to a special-needs child and now a mom to a special-needs man.

I cannot even fathom that I am this old to have a 25-year-old. LOL. That is another article in itself.

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But here are a few things I have learned along this road:

1.) You are stronger than you think. Nothing will break you. You pick yourself up, wipe yourself off, and get on with it.

2.) Scheduling doctor appointments, physical therapy, occupational therapy and the activities for your other children is a talent in and of itself. You can also get anywhere!

3.) You will smile more than you think you would have. The smallest tasks you accomplish will bring pure joy.

4.) You will never sweat the small stuff. Things like “house beautiful” or perfect holiday traditions will not be your focus or your dream. A day with no drama will be.

5.) You will love hard and fierce for your family. The term “warrior mom” will take on a new meaning for you, and you will protect them always.

Related: Moms: Just ‘Be’

Your world will not be perfect by any means. There will be times of loneliness and times of envy. You will constantly hear and see your friends’ kids doing things yours will not.

But one thing you don’t realize is this: It’s OK.

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Embrace those feelings — and know you are not a bad person because of that.

But then, take the song from “Frozen” and “Let It Go.” You are exactly where you should be and so are your children.

Kathy Chlan, based in Belmar, New Jersey, is the author of “Maternally Challenged: How My Special Needs Son Taught Me to Sack Up & Laugh” and the writer of the website Unfiltered Mom.