We don't always get to choose the paths in life that we take. This picture here is of a good friend. Like myself, she is a parent to children with multiple and complex needs.
Growing up I was the quiet kid. I didn't say much at school. I was extremely introverted. I just wanted to live an ordinary everyday life. Grow up, have a job, get married, find out I was secretly royalty and that my biological family was going to surprise everyone when they came and I was a secret duchess of something. Hey, even the quiet girls have dreams!
I did grow up, had a fantastic job, an awesome hubby, and was pretty content to coast on by. Then my life changed.
I didn't want to sign up for warrior status. But when my children came along I found out that nice people can and indeed do finish last. Not all the time, but a good chunk of it.
My son wasn't getting what he needed. I was told over and over again that he was "fine". I was told this by teachers, some family, and the world at large. They didn't see the battles and the struggles that we went through day by day. Something had to change. Someone had to change. I had to change. So I did. Bit by bit.
It started out with small changes, pushing back ever so slightly. The small changes worked and over time I became bolder and bolder. By the time Cary Lynn joined the family I was on my way to becoming a seasoned warrior. Over the three years she has been with us I have by and large given up on having a quiet and ordinary life. My days are filled with advocacy, fighting for needs, pushing against a system that often times works against us.
Warriors aren't born. They are made. They become. My friend has become a warrior for her children. Day by day she fights for them. As do each and every parent of special needs children that I know. There is not one of us who will stop until our children get what they need. We have to work much harder at it, but giving up has never been an option.
There are also side effects of becoming a warrior. When you make the choice to become one it impacts your family. My son watches me put on my battle paint and draw my sword for justice. My daughter hears my voice while I am shouting for equality. Little by little Marvin and Cary Lynn are starting to pick up their own swords and shields. I see it day by day. When my son tells people that he needs a break, that they need to hear his feelings. When my daughter picks up her communication device and says NO NO NO NO NO. When she fights against things that hurt her. Every day I see proof that I am raising warriors.
Right now my friend's daughter is in the hospital. Again. She had a major colon resection, a J-tube placed, adhesions removed, and a new button placed in her. I went to the hospital to visit her. She's in a ton of pain. But she is also a warrior. She is fighting hard to recuperate and her strength amazes me.
As I'm writing this I'm also watching her son and daughter. They too are becoming warriors. Not because they were so excited about all the fringe benefits they are going to get out of it. But because their mom is a force to be reckoned with. Her strong drive and amazing mindset blow me away on a regular basis.
Her son has changed so much this year. He's become more expressive, tries to take care of his younger sisters, and has stepped up to the plate time and time again. Her daughter who sits next to me coloring is the spitting image of her mama. Her mannerisms and the way she helps me out with my daughter when she is over show me that some day this little girl is going to take the world by storm. Our children are reminders and visible benchmarks of the path we have chosen.
Make no mistake. We will fight for our children. We are Warriors. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Amy Fields is a wife, mother, and advocate. You can find her at her blog Many Kinds of Families