In the life of a child who comes from healthy family dynamics, it is likely you will find no one more proud of that child than his parents/caregivers. As caregivers, we have an endless list of roles we step into but I believe that cheerleader and encouragement-bellower are at the top of that list. What a joy it is to see the potential in our children, shepherd them toward their goals, and celebrate their accomplishments like crazy.
Sometimes, we may even share those accomplishments with others so they may join us in the pride and celebration we lavish on our children.
In recent years, one of the greatest platforms for sharing parental pride has become social media. While scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, it takes only seconds to find one post after another by parents who delight in their children and want to share all about how their child made the honor roll, starting their first job, or will be graduating with honors. My heart swells when I see parents praising their children and I am happy to celebrate alongside them.
However, every now and then, I feel a pang in my heart as these particular pride-gushing posts cross my feed.
My friend is sharing a video of her child’s first steps and first sentence. I have children who will never walk and rely on pictures and devices to communicate even the simplest words. One parent is sharing about her child who graduated with honors and is chasing her dream job. My children will likely live with me forever and are unable to have the jobs of their dreams. A few years ago, I was committed to sharing my children’s unique accomplishments right alongside those of other parents on social media. However, I quickly found that it was difficult to protect my children, their stories, and the sacredness of their struggles when sharing in this way.
I still share many posts of my children and their joys. But I now keep the accomplishments to myself in an effort to protect my children (and perhaps myself too) from judgement, comparison, and overexposure. There was also a time where I would share my children’s accomplishments in groups of family and friends but we were often met with awkward responses, hurtful questions, and unkind comments. Eventually, our family and the things we throw parties for each and every day seems to slip out of many circles and into the background.
The thing is, my children accomplish just as much—and perhaps more—than the children of my friends who do not live with a long list of diagnoses. My children are the hardest-working, most dedicated overcomers I have ever met and every one of their accomplishments are worth celebrating in full. Over time, our family has learned how to celebrate and how to do it big. Sometimes, these victories are shouted about and danced for only within the walls of our own home and that is enough for us. But we also are slowly building a tribe who loves to trumpet for our children just as loudly as we do.
A few times a week, I send a text sharing about the big things my little people have accomplished in a day.
Sometimes, it is crushing a speech or physical therapy goal they have been working on for years. Other times, it is making it through a sensory-triggering grocery run without a meltdown or holding a pencil for more than a few seconds. When my friends who have become family respond to these messages with a string of excitement and celebration for my children followed by a dozen exclamation points, my heart swells and I know that we have found our circle of celebration.
A few people I know call my house the party house and I believe that is a very fitting statement. It’s always a party around here. How could it not be? Our house is full of unique, warrior children who live and love so big while still pushing themselves to do and be better. How in the world could we NOT celebrate non-stop? I am so thankful for our unique journey and those who are along for the messy, beautiful, party-filled ride.