As a mother of a child with special needs I have sat on the sidelines for years excitedly cheering for children of close friends who danced in recitals, played baseball, basketball, football and of course-soccer! It is a bittersweet feeling, participating in these events, you are so proud of your friend’s child but at the same time it may be a continuous reminder of what your own child is not able to do. It seemed that all of the mothers around me had a busy schedule of practices and games almost every night. While I was thankful that our family was not caught up in that whirlwind schedule, there was of course a part of me that mourned for the fact that our son could not participate in these “normal” milestones of childhood.
When you are in the midst of trying to get your child well you have to work to maintain hope every day-sometimes every minute. Doubt can creep in and you wonder if your child will ever be able to talk, to catch a ball, learn to read and the list goes on and on. I learned from Geoffrey’s neurodevelopmental specialist, Bob Doman founder of the National Association for Child Development (www.nacd.org), to focus on Geoffrey’s potential rather than a limiting label. During our quarterly meetings with Bob, he would remind me that Geoffrey had unlimited potential and that if we provided him with the right interventions with the optimal level of frequency and intensity then he would improve!
I also have learned that I had to take risks and allow Geoffrey a chance to succeed. Like all children, sometimes he would succeed and sometimes he would not. Most importantly, much of the time he could succeed with time and practice! When a friend told us about a special needs soccer league and invited him to participate I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Could he do it? Would it be too overwhelming for him? Would the other kids be “mean to him? What if it was a total disaster? Should I put him through this?
The risk was worth it! Geoffrey actually asks to go to soccer and is so excited about going every week. Yes, after eight weeks he still beeps Coach Keith’s nose during practice and hugs the pretty volunteer coach assistants when he is supposed to be kicking the ball but he loves soccer and is improving. He is happy to see the other team members and the older boys are actually very helpful with the younger ones. So, as I watch my beautiful son kicking the ball on the field, I, at long last, give a cheer for him! I then realize that I am finally now a SOCCER MOM and it feels great!