05/06/2016 08:49 EDT | Updated 05/07/2017 05:12 EDT

Becoming A Special Needs Parent Changed Mother's Day For Me

Spring portrait of mother and son on Mother's Day.

The day the stick turned blue in the bathroom was easily one of, if not the happiest day of my life. I had wanted nothing else since I was a child, to become a mom. My husband and I had been trying for almost two years with no success, so when I saw that it had finally happened, I was overjoyed.

Pregnancy was not all rosy all the time, but was uneventful for the most part. My son's entry into the world by emergency C-section though, was not. Still, we both recovered, and we all went home to begin our new life as a family.

I don't take anything for granted anymore.

The days, weeks and months passed and I celebrated my very first Mother's Day. What a joy! I was finally part of the club. Then fast forward to a year later when I began to see something was wrong. My child was not developing like other children. He was beautiful, happy, but separate from us somehow. I was scared. We still celebrated Mother's Day, of course. I was still overjoyed to be a mom, his mom, yet now I felt I was failing him.

A year after that when we knew he had autism, our celebrations took on a new turn. Adjustments were made to celebrate more quietly. We always had a backup plan in case we had to leave early, what to say to people. Other than our parents and siblings, no one else knew about Michael's autism. Gradually, we told everyone around us and joy in our life returned. Mother's Day now is as special as ever.

I don't take anything for granted anymore. And as a reminder to myself, each year I think of these six ways that Mother's Day has changed for me since becoming a special needs parent:

1. I don't take my son's victories for granted. When he was a little baby, if he was quiet, fed, and changed, I didn't worry. My concern was trying to raise him and run a household. After seeing he needed time to learn things his own way, I started to focus more on being with him and trusting my parenting gut.

2. I have learned how to slow down, meditate, and worry less. I learned how to stop and smell the roses, as life can be good, even better, when you appreciate everything you are seeing with eyes that see the world differently as my son's do.

3. I appreciate health more. When your child has any kind of health or learning issues, it's amazing how everything else is measured against that as top priority.

4. I laugh more. Sounds strange? Well, let me tell you, if you can't laugh as a parent to a special needs child about the absurdity of some situations, your reaction to them, and to your child's very unique way of seeing the world, life will get you down.

5. I see my strength, and am encouraged to work more at overcoming my shortcomings. My son has shown me how I need to be my best and model that for him.

6. I have learned patience. Every Mother's Day I think another year of growth, of learning to be a more patient mom, person, and human being so I could give that back to my son.

Mother's Day is way more special now than it ever was, and in the best way possible. Happy Mother's Day to all!

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