As every parent, I worry about the health and well-being of my children. From the day to day planning to future goals, it is my job to be there to support them. When I earned the term special needs parent, that worry escalated. Many more factors came into play such as therapy and medications, hospital visits and blood tests, dividing my attention accordingly and fairly between my children, supporting my neurotypical child as much as I am supporting my neurodivergent child. As much as I worry about their needs, there isn’t a day that goes by where I do not think about what happens if something happens to me.
Who will take on everything? How will my children respond? How will my son, with additional needs, respond to a sudden change? How will he respond to it not being me or if something happened to me?
I am blessed and grateful to have an amazing support system but I know if something happens to me that things will be different and as much I know I have to think about it, I try not to because it very much worries me. However, this past week, we learned very quickly what would happen if something did happen to me because it did.
A fun day at the trampoline park turned into a broken face for me. One minute, I was laughing and playing with my son in a foam pit and the next minute a plastic swing hit me in the face, fracturing my nose, my cheekbone and chipping some teeth. I instantly went into survival mode as I was covered in blood, unable to see and trying to navigate the foam pit I was in with my son. Was he okay? Did he get hurt too? I knew what I was experiencing but could not hear or see him. I panicked, Luckily a very good friend jumped in to grab him and told me he was okay as I was being pulled out and receiving medical attention. Despite being injured, my biggest worry now was my son’s response to me being visibly hurt and no longer at his side. It did not appear that he saw what happened but he heard the commotion and started yelling for me. As I was wiping away the blood, I could hear his little voice nervously and repeatedly calling ‘Mama’ as I was no longer in his eyesight. I will never forget the moment he found me and saw that I was hurt. My normally very active, rough and loud child immediately was calm. He covered his mouth and gasped saying ‘oh no mama.’ Without hesitation, he immediately scrambled through the first aid kit with his Pop and said ‘bandaid mama…..mama needs bandaid.’ Then he gently placed a bright blue one on my newly broken nose.
After an ER visit it was determined that I needed surgery. As I worked to rearrange the day to day needs for my children while I knew I would be out of commission, the procedure was scheduled. Prior to, my face looked different- nose was visibly out of place and I was fully bruised throughout the center of my face and swollen. After my surgery, I had to wear a stent on my nose covered with medical tape. There was additional bruising and unfortunately, due to an allergic reaction, much much more swelling. I was unrecognizable for a few days. I will spare you those pictures.
To most this wouldn’t matter too much but to my son that is used to things a certain way -especially the way his mama looked, it mattered. When he first saw me, he was hesitant and he was cautious. He stared from afar. He stared close up. He gently touched my face and would repeat “owww Mama….Mama sore.”
As the days progressed, he surprised me. For a child that normally doesn’t sit still and is ALWAYS on the go, he sat by my side. He would crawl up and snuggle me. He would carefully kiss me on the cheek, forehead and nose. He would point to my face and say “get better mama.’’ He even gave himself a bandage to match me
Although this was a physically traumatic experience for me there were many elements of it that I know were traumatic for my son- seeing his mom physically hurt, being pulled from his everyday routine (school, home, etc) and seeing his mom look differently than normal. As with any child, especially a child with additional needs, these added elements force us to have our guard up to not only manage your own emotions but our children’s as well.
Prior to this, I probably wouldn’t have used the word calm to describe my son, however, this circumstance showed me another side of him. A side that due to his diagnosis, some might say may not exist in kids like him. In true Colton fashion, he amazed me. His attention to me, his care, his gentleness and compassion were the sweetest. It reminded me to not get caught up in what is expected but more importantly, the what is. As parents we focus so much on what we need to do for our children that we don’t always see what they do for us.
My boy supported me when I needed it the most. He showed his mama the most important thing she needed……his tender loving care.