An Open Letter to Every Parent As You Start 2018

letter to parent of child with down syndrome 2018

Dear Parent,

Here we are, the first day of 2018. I’m not sure what your 2017 was like, but it wasn’t the best year for me. In fact, it was downright hard. Maybe last year was hard for you, too. Maybe the last several years have been hard. If so, this letter is for you.

Parenting isn’t easy. Especially if you have young kids. Especially if you have a child with “special needs.” And especially if you happen to be a single parent. It seems like your children are always needing something. Or crying. Or eating. Or spilling something. Or asking for something. Or messing up the house. Or filling up the sink with dirty dishes…after you just finished washing the ones that were in there. Or breaking something. Or tracking mud in the house. Or getting sick. Or something else.

You get up early to make them breakfast…and help them get dressed. All while trying to get dressed and get out of the house yourself. You barley get your kids to school on time (or if you’re like us, they end up being late.) and you forget their lunch as you were rushing out of the house. You didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast, and you’re running late to work. You pick up the kids. You’re tired. You cook dinner. You get them in bed. (and bed time isn’t easy.) By the time you do all of this the day is over. You want to binge watch the latest Netflix show, but there’s no time. You have to go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again.

The next day one child needs to go the doctor, the other has a party at their school, and you get a call midmorning form your other child’s school letting you know you need to come pick him up because he has a fever.  The weekend comes…there’s two birthday parties, soccer practice, church…and you need to go grocery shopping.

How will you do all of that? There’s not enough time?

When will you ever get a chance to rest? To relax? To take care of errands you need to run, or go to the gym, or pick up a hobby, or write that book you always wanted to write. Or even get a game of Candy Crush in.

You wonder if you’re kids even understand all you do for them.

Parenthood is hard.

No, your children don’t understand all you do for them. They don’t appreciate you like they should. They can’t. They are kids. You and I didn’t understand all that our parents did for us when we were kids either. We have many more years under our belt than they do. We have experience that they don’t. We can’t expect our kids to have the same appreciation for others that we (hopefully) do.

But…

I want to encourage you today.

You are making a difference. Every trip to the park, every drive to school, every soccer practice you attend, meal you make, bedtime story you read. All of it is making a deposit in your child’s life. I’ve heard it said that the days are long and the years are short, and it’s true.

Today’s the first day of 2018 and it will fly by just as quick (if not quicker) than 2017 did.

As parents, we only have 936 weeks from the time our child is born until they turn 18. 936 weeks. That’s it! When our children are adults, we’ll never (never!) get this time back. There will be no more bedtime stories with them, no more drives to school, soccer practices, or bedtime routines. This is it. This is our time to invest in our kids. To keep loving the heck out of them even when we’re tired and short of patience, funds, and sleep.

I want to tell you something right now that I’m guessing your don’t hear from your children:

Thank you for all that you do for your kids!

No matter what your 2017 was like, today marks the start of a fresh year. Maybe you wish you spent less time on your phone and more time with your kids last year. Or read more stories to them. Or played more games with them…or ate dinner as a family together…or rise your voice less…or whatever else. Well, guess what? You can start doing whatever you wished you did in 2017, today.

Today is your fresh start.

As you get back into the swing of things with work, school, and life…I want you to know that as a parent what you do matters. There are lots of kids with no parents. Whose parents have abandoned them. My guess is you haven’t abandoned your child. You are investing in your child’s life. One bath, one meal, one drive to school at a time.

Keep at it. You aren’t alone. What you are doing matters. You have a friend here on this blog. I’m for you! You’re kid are for you! It may not feel like, but as a friend of mine says, feelings are real, but they aren’t reliable. You can’t always trust how you “feel.” Our feelings can change based on how hungry or sleepy we are.

Don’t trust your feelings. Trust truth.

The truth is your kids love you. They need you. And what you are doing is important. Don’t tell yourself your a bad parent because you were to tired to make dinner tonight and you let your kids eat McDonalds…and play on your iPhone for 2 hours tonight because you needed a break.

It’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up.

YOU. ARE. MAKING A. DIFFERENCE.

So tonight, when you’re kids are wearing your out, and wish you could just veg out on the couch..remember, you have less than 936 weeks before your child turns 18. When that day comes, you won’t wish you would have watched one more episode of the new Gilmore Girls on Netflix…but you will wished you would have spent more time with your kids.

When you finishing reading this email, take a look at your child, them him/her you love them, give them a big hug, and tell them you’re glad you are their parent.

Let me say it one more time…

Keep at it. You aren’t alone. What you are doing matters.

Now, let’s go knock out 2018.

– Noah’s Dad

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.

Comments

  1. Gosh, I needed to read this today, thank you!!

  2. Karen Hawkins says:

    I so look forward to reading your e-mails. My nephew had Downs, but also had spina bilfada. These stories put such a smile on my face. Shawn is in heaven now. He lived to be 37. I tried my best to get his parents to let him breathe and experience life, like you are with Noah. They wouldn’t. They lived only through and with him. They were never out of his sight. Bless you for raising Noah as you are.

  3. This year has been one of the hardest of my life and the days definitely feel excruciatingly long, but I always tell myself how quickly things become memories and we look back on them nostalgicly. This year I don’t need a reminder of the difference I make in my children’s lives and that they make in mine. We are separated by distance. Two sons, the oldest (15 years) and my newborn (4 months) are with me, waiting for heart surgery (related to t21) Four other children between 13 and five years are a continent away. Before this I lived and breathed my children lives. We were always together. I see them on the internet but it is not the same. Every night I imagine kissing each one goodnight and all the extra hugs and kisses I don’t know what to do with I give to the two sons that are with me. God willing this year will be short and I will get back to enjoying the 1000+ weeks I still have with them.

  4. Today was a rough day. Just one of those days where I was tired of doing everything for my baby girl on my own and wanted just once to come home and go straight to bed. However, after she went to bed, I got on here and decided to pick a random post to read. This is the one I landed on, and wow, was it perfect for today. Only 936 weeks.

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