One of my favorite questions to ask people is, “If you were given $100,000 right now, how would you spend it?” I feel like it gives me some insight on what they value most, and it just overall changes the mood in the room. It always seems to energize people. A few weeks ago, I asked the entire pediatric gym this question. One person replied, “a Lexus,” and another person said, “pay off my student loans”. One other person said, “pay down my house.” Then, I was hit with the all too often humbling reminder of “perspective.” My patient’s mother replied, “John-Wesley, you know I would spend it towards a cure for my child.”
Most of you reading this know I work with special needs children in a pediatric physical therapy clinic. This “job” is one of the most wonderful gifts God has given me. Those kids have done so much for my mind, my soul, and my heart!
I asked the mother to please write some of her thoughts down so people can feel what I feel when I talk with my patients’ parents. The truth is that she likely does not have time because God has given her another mission. So I will try to put my thoughts down. After my 28 years, I’m still unsure as to what God’s mission is for me. But I am 100% sure why God created these children’s parents, and that is to be a mama or a daddy of these special children!
I sit and reflect on the things that worried me today: “What will I do for my wife on her birthday?”, “Are healthcare costs going to go down?”, or “How are my investments doing with all the bad news I keep hearing about our economy?” I am then reminded of these parents. When your child is ill, nothing else matters. They don’t care about any damn investments or probably even their own birthdays. They wake up hoping that their five year old child may take his first step. Or, they hope that their three year old will have less than five seizures today, and that maybe they will not be painful for them. They hope that their ten year old will continue to be able to walk while fighting a horrid disease, and sometimes simply that their baby will live to fight another day.
I have seen mothers hold their children through terrible seizures, and fathers suction their babies through a trach hole because their little muscles are too weak to cough. I’ve seen mothers carry their 100 pound twelve year old to the car on their hip because they are unable to walk. And every single time, I think through my heartache for them, “What a badass!”
I am blown away by these parents’ strength, and what time God must have spent creating them, carefully molding their empathy, emotions, and strength. They were created to care for these kids and allow the world the gift of spending time with their children!
These parents don’t complain about what their children cannot do. They teach me lessons in gratitude every day! I saw a mom and dad cry today because their three year old was able to hold their head up to nod “yes” for the first time. I’ve seen parents get the video camera out to capture the moment of their six year old being able to use their arms to play with a toy for the first time. I have seen entire families break down in tears over one small first step.
I feel selfish at times because of the things I worry about, and the lack of gratitude I have for other things. But they do not want my sympathy; they are on a mission: the distinct mission that God has given them!
To every special needs parent out there: I want you to know that because of the joy in your child, I am a happier person! Because of the miracles I’ve seen in your child, I am closer to God! Because of the way you celebrate your child’s small victories, I am learning gratitude! Because of your child, my family’s life is better!
I hurt for you. I want you to know that I hurt in my heart that your baby is going through this. But, I take comfort in that God created you to serve this mission for them! Thank you for sharing your greatest gift with the world! Thank you for inspiring me! You are a badass!
“Thank you God for the perspective my job has provided me! Help me to see these children’s limitations as limitless opportunities for me to find strength and courage in you!”