Learning to let go of my Special Needs Child. (Just a Little)

I lied when I said I was okay.

I sit here outside the bookstore watching the sunset and I realize that at this very moment you are sitting on a bench somewhere by the water watching the same colors roll down the sky.

But it isn’t the same for you.

You are at the cusp of a new relationship. He probably has his arm around you right now. Maybe you are talking and laughing quietly, but maybe you are silent, watching the sky, your heart beating just a bit faster as you wonder what will happen next.

And I am not ready for this. I’m not ready to share you with this new boy in your life.

You have been through so much and we’ve managed it all together – we’ve barely begun to live a life free from the demons that haunted you for so long. I’m used to being the arm wrapped around you. I’m used to being your confidante and your place to run. I’m used to being the one that chases the bad dreams away, who kisses your tears and holds your hand. I’m not used to sharing your smile or your infectious laughter.

But I told you to go. I told you that you could go on this date. A date with a boy that packed you a picnic; a picnic at the beach to watch the sunset.

The orange sky is mocking me. It knows I lied. It knows I’m not ready. It knows that while you experience the first excitement of a budding relationship that I’m holding back the tears.

This means you are growing up. This means that soon you won’t depend on me as much, you won’t need me as much. You’ll need me. Sure. But things are changing. we will always be close but you are just one more step closer to womanhood. One more step away from me. It’s selfish, I’m aware, but I fear for you.

Will he understand your ADHD? Will he understand your Anxiety and Depression? Will he look beyond the self inflicted scars and see how amazing you are? Will he respect you and will he hold you when you are afraid? Will he chase away the ghosts that rear their ugly heads sometimes? Do you even want him to?

Will you remember all I have taught you? Will you remember that you are priceless and worthy of respect not just from others but from yourself?

I am no longer the first person you tell your secrets to. You have girlfriends now that you share things with. And there’s him. Oh, I know you are just starting to get to know one another, but he won’t be the last. This is just the beginning. For you. While I feel as if something precious is ending.

Is it because of all that we’ve been through that I feel this way, or do all mothers feel this same sadness and disquiet when their daughters reach a certain age? It’s been just the two of us for so very long. I’m not really sure what to do with myself, honestly.

I know we have much ahead of us and many memories left to make, but tonight I am forced to admit the reality that you are a sophomore. In less than three years you will be college bound. You have a life ahead of you that will not always include me. You will not always need me the way you have needed me up until now.

Do you guess how difficult this really is?

I don’t begrudge you this time or your friends or the life you are finally starting to live. I’ve pushed and pulled to get you to this point for this very thing. So that you may live. The rest is going to be up to you now.

No, you aren’t grown and you will still need my guidance, but let’s face it. As far as your values or the kind of person you are; it’s all set. My sphere of influence is waning – I’ve tried to teach you all I can. It’s going to be up to you to make wise choices.

I will no longer be with you every moment of every day and the hardest thing I will ever do is to entrust you to strangers – to smile and wave as you go off with friends, or dates, hoping that you will stay true to yourself and hoping they are worthy of you.

The sky is growing dark and you will be home soon. I will feel better then, but this is only the first of many nights where I will sit just waiting for you.

I love seeing you happy. I love seeing you enjoy friends. I love that you have confidence and want to do things when not too long ago you had to be forced to even leave the house. Not long ago you had no one to socialize with – no one to understand you or to dare to look past the face of mental illness and see who you really were. They had no idea what a truly amazing individual you were – but they do now. They know it because you no longer try to hide your light.

Friends abound and dates will too, I suppose. And I will be here through it all. I will always be here. I will do my best to smile when you come home. I will do my best to get used to the idea that this is a typical teenager’s life. A life you deserve.

Forgive me if I struggle. You’ve had too much pain already. You have had too much torment and grief. I never wish for you to return to the terrified, sad girl you have been. I will do my best to protect you from all I can. But I also have to let you go.

And trust your wings.

4 thoughts on “Learning to let go of my Special Needs Child. (Just a Little)

  1. Hi Kristi.. I’m new to word press, I have a special needs daughter who’s visually impaired and she self harms our of frustration because she’s non verbal. Being the mother of a child is challenging, of a special needs child it is just a little more demanding, but it’s a very interesting journey. My daughter is only 4.. so this made me tear up imagining when she’s 16 and the same feelings rise for me.. but it’s beautiful. I loved it.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. It’s a difficult journey, but a beautiful one with our children. They teach us so much!!
      It’s difficult to let them out into the “big bad world” when we want so much to protect them, but ultimately we must.
      All the best to you and your daughter!!

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