08/06/2014 04:21 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2014

The Reality of Being a Special Needs Mom

Kathy Radigan

The other day, I found myself getting angry, frustrated and even sad at a parenting article in a magazine.

The funny thing is, it wasn't a piece on the pros and cons of spanking, or whether I'm a good or bad parent because I stay home. Or, whether my youngest child is forever damaged because I bottle fed him and nursed his older brother and sister.

No, it wasn't on any of the of the hot button issues that can make mom blogs go crazy and garner a ton of media attention.

The piece in question was a very simple and straightforward article aimed at new moms about some of the hardest times a parent can go through.

Times like the first time your precious child says, I hate you, or is sad because nobody wants to play with them, or a day when the love of your life says they like daddy better.

One I clearly remember: the day another toddler bit my firstborn, or, equally etched in my memory, the day he hit his best friend.

These were all days I remember crying and being in need of sympathy from my mom friends and a piece of chocolate.

No, I was sad, angry, jealous and I admit it, feeling a bit sorry for myself, because though those days were hard and painful as a new mom, they can't hold a candle to some of the other days I have experienced as a mom to a child with significant special needs.

The day I prayed the earth would swallow me up because a doctor was telling me my then 2-year-old daughter's MRI showed significant brain damage, or the endless nights where she would scream at an ungodly pitch and thrash around not quite sleeping, but not awake, either, and not one doctor could tell me why.

The endless tests, appointments with specialists, meetings with a variety of therapists and teachers. The looks of concern and even pity from professionals, friends and family.

The day I realized that despite all the amazing medical care, teachers and therapies my daughter received and continues to receive, she will never lead anything remotely close to the normal life I had always assumed she would be able to live.

When you have a child with a significant special need or a life-threatening condition or illness, your parenting experience is forever altered and you are changed.

I am not the same naive young mom who thought she could solve any problem that came her way. I know better.

I have been the mother in the room with the kid who has the most issues, and I have been the mother in the room with parents who wish their child was as healthy or could do what Lizzy can do.

I know bad things can happen to me and to people I love. I no longer think I'm immune to the worst life can dish out.

Most days, I am OK with that. In fact I find the strength that I have found and the knowledge that I can handle anything extremely empowering.

I appreciate the good days we have with Lizzy and I really appreciate my boys.

Little things don't get me down as much as they used to.

And we laugh. A lot.

But then there are days when I wish I didn't have to be so strong.

When I want to just yell that I have had enough.

There are days when I wish that parenting a special needs child didn't present such a complex range of problems.

Thankfully, those days don't last very long.

This piece was originally published on