My husband’s special needs parenting skills have been a gift to our children and me. So today, our family is celebrating the gift of him and his amazing special needs parenting skills on his 62nd birthday. Here are 10 special skills he’s perfected since our first child was born in 1982.
- Bodily fluids don’t bother him. From pee to poop, from projectile vomiting to fountains of blood, from oozing wounds to regurgitated bile–he took it all in stride from the day our son entered the world. Which was good because even perfectly normal poopy diapers made me gag, and I may have been the one doing the projectile vomiting on occasion.
- Calm is his middle name. Seriously, emergency situations do not rile him. At least not when they are happening. Time after time when the crisis ended and his calmness dissolved into worry, my long term planning skills kicked into action.
- He is patient beyond patient. With his kids. With his wife. With whiny kids. With an impatient wife. You get the picture.
- He compliments the cook. Even when the exhausted cook, who spent all night nursing a fussy baby, burns frozen pizza. Or slams a box of macaroni and cheese on the table and runs crying to the bedroom. Even then, he compliments the cook for planning supper so he didn’t have to.
- Sleepability is his forte. As in, he can sleep in the recliner. While jiggling a fussy baby in his lap. Night after night. For months on end.
- Forgiveness comes easily to him. That was good news for a new mom caring for a child with a life-threatening condition. I often said things that should not have been said, and he forgave me. Every. Single. Time.
- Hard work doesn’t bother him. Often when our children were young, he said he wished I could stay home with the kids. But the insurance coverage and other benefits provided through my teaching job meant I taught for 25 years until our son was an adult and on his own. Furthermore, though he could retire at 62, he’s chosen to work 3 more years because of the insurance coverage and other benefits provided by his nursing job.
- Faith and faithfulness define him. Because he is a man of faith who wants to please God, he chooses to be faithful day in and day out. Not just to me, but to his family, his friends, and his church. To never have to doubt his faithfulness has been an immense gift while raising a child with special needs.
- He encourages me and our kids to follow our dreams. He has more faith in our abilities than we do. He listened to our kids dream big and always believed in them, whether or not their dreams were realized. He encouraged me to leave teaching to write and speak even though doing so meant a much lower income. “It’s not about money,” he once told me. “It’s about ministering to other parents raising kids like ours.”
- His love for our children is steady and unconditional. When our son was born and immediately whisked away for surgery at a hospital 750 miles away, I was a basket case. When I asked my husband what we were going to do, he looked at me quizzically. “We’re going to love him,” he said, “for as long as we have him. Just as he is.” His love for his son, and for his daughter born 6 years later, has never wavered.
My husband turns 62 today, and I am keenly aware of the gift he has been to our family. We’ll celebrate the day with presents and his favorite meal, but whatever we do can’t compare with what he’s done for us. Happy birthday, dear husband. And happy birthday to us!
Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences around the country. The book she is working with Dr. Gary Chapman about using the five love languages in special needs families will be released in August of 2019.