Witnessing Miracles by Ellen Stumbo

talkative little girl closeup
source: zen

I watch as my daughter struggles to walk. Slowly, she takes one-step and catches her balance, then the other foot comes forward, dragging a little behind her. When she finally reaches the couch in the living room, she throws herself on the soft seat. She looks up at me, beaming, “I did it mom! I did it! I walked all by myself!”

So I laugh and cry, clap and jump, and say between the sobs and the laughter, “You did it! You walked!” And she stares at me confused because it is possible her mother lost her mind.

“Mom, are you happy, or are you sad?” she asks tentatively.

“I am so happy that I am crying. I have tears of joy Nina!”

My daughter’s body is tight from cerebral palsy. Simple things, like walking, are not simple for her. I know that sometimes she wants to give up. Her mind fights her body and her body fights her mind. So we cheer her on, we tell her she can do it, and we believe in her full potential. And she tries once more. Then, after years of trying, she finally takes those precious first steps that bring out the tears and the laughter, all mixed together in one ball of emotion. I feel so proud!

Yes, sometimes having a child with special needs can be difficult. Having a 6-year-old child who needs a wheelchair to go for a “walk” can be challenging. But then there are those magical moments. The milestones that are no longer typical, or expected, because they become like miracles. Those are the moments that make all the hard work pay off. In this journey of special needs, we celebrate fully, with abandonment, and with great joy.

Like Erma Bombeck said, having a child with special needs means you witness miracles … and you know it.

Ellen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.