Family Overcoming Hardships Reflections

Rare Moments: Confessions of a Mother with a Special Needs Child

By Lilly S. Mohsen

Photo: Morgan Stewart

There come those rare moments when, out of nowhere, and when we least expect it, something truly magical happens. Perhaps some of us are too wrapped up in the demands of our daily lives to actually notice those moments. But one way or another, whether we want to admit it or not, we all catch glimpses of dreams coming true, whether they are fairytale wedding nights or surprise birthday parties, a baby’s first step or a child’s heartwarming smile. They can even be as simple as a hug from the right person at the right time, or as grandiose as a moment of success under the spotlight. They can be moments of genuine appreciation from our loved ones, a kiss that melts souls and weakens knees, first days of school, rose-colored graduations, or a thought or an idea that boosts our minds and hearts with hope and energy, or the experience of true submission under the sparkling light of faith.

I was one of the lucky few to see and feel a truly magical moment. Here I am placing it lovingly in my cherished box of beautiful memories; the magical moment when my son became a part of our family and we were able to enjoy him for one whole hour.

When it happened, my daughter and I froze in place, mesmerized by the beauty of this unity. For 60 blessed minutes, each second was worth a lifetime of happiness. My son, who had been living with us for eleven years, blended with us that night. For the first time in a very long time we were finally a family.

I was able to answer his smart questions. I was able to cuddle with him and his sister on our couch and watch a movie. It was a new movie he had never seen before and yet he did not act up. He did not bang his head against the wall and he did not punch me in the face when I looked at him. He did not slap his sister or try to break the TV. He did none of that. He laughed and joked and told us how much he loves us. He walked to his room all by himself and fetched his blue blanket. All by himself he came back with messy hair and a big adorable grin that shined bright like a full moon on our lives. We were there to see it and feel it. We were there to enjoy that blessing that night. Although it might sound so simple and so normal, to me, it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life: My eleven-year-old son was behaving like an eleven year old for the very first time.

There were no extra doses of medication or midnight calls to doctors. There were no fears of seizures, panic attacks or excessive drooling from excitement. I did not have to wonder how I would be able to manage tomorrow and how I was able to survive yesterday. I did not have to apologize to people around me and explain his condition to his sister over and over again. I did not have to hold back my tears. I did not have to shield everyone with my body from his sudden blows. Only then did I realize that something ‘not happening’ was the greatest, most amazing blessing of all.

The pleasant, normal side of my son was given to me as a gift that night. For one whole hour he sat and talked to us like a young man and then fell asleep on my lap like an innocent little baby. Just like that. As I saw the look on his sister’s face, absorbed her smile and her serene feeling of long lost security, I watched her fall asleep peacefully without fearing that her own brother was in the same room. My heart sang a beautiful lullaby that night that I had never heard before. I sat alone with both my children asleep in my arms, wishing I could hit the pause button and make this rare, magical moment last forever. The whole world smiled back at me as I basked in my newfound happiness.

For a brief moment, I was able to experience an occurrence of normal daily life. I did not think, not even in my wildest dreams, that something so simple could feel so glorious and fulfilling. Even when I knew deep down that come morning I would have to return my ordinary special gift, it was worth every magical second.

If only we could stop running just for a little bit. If only we could stop and appreciate those rare, ordinary moments that make our lives so extraordinary. If only we could stop chasing the unknown and take the time to absorb the beauty we hardly notice anymore: the sparkles in loving eyes, the moments of true understanding, the masterpieces made from cereal boxes and play dough, and the life-changing art drawn by little messy hands. If only we could allow those rare, cherished moments to invade our busy, empty lives for a little while, perhaps that is when our dreams will shine brightly in the night and we will finally realize that happiness is lined with appreciating the simple things in life that are ever so great.

Thank you, Allah Almighty, for allowing me to see what ordinary means. It is truly and magnificently extraordinary.

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  • It brought tears to my eyes. Being the mother of a special needs child, I myself daydream of my son being in Jannah, as an ordinary child. Cured, with no disability. I just hope I’m good enough to be with him there.

  • Wow!!! That was so beautiful. I just went through an amazing experience myself. Sometimes Allah (swt) keeps us in need so He can show us that He has created ways/people who will take care of our needs. I just got over my sickness, hamdulillah. And felt those very moments you described in my family. May Allah (swt) give us all the ability to pause and reflect.

  • You’ve touched my heart. This is beautiful mA and may Allah (swt) reward you for your positive outlook on life. You’re right…we need to focus on the present and enjoy what’s happening around us. You’ve inspired me.

  • I cried while reading your article. Being a mother of a special need child I know exactly how you felt that night. Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT lets us see His mercy to remember Him. May Allah SWT give you more of those precious moments. Ameen.

  • This is so beautiful. Every single bit of it is true beyond words. Sometime I stall in my own life and look around to internalize the love and beauty that surrounds us. How every moment of our lives is a blessing, every breath we take, every step we make – all of it is decreed by Allah swt and is a miracle in the nature of its timely occurrence. We get so wrapped up in our petty lives and our petty problems that we fail to appreciate what we have. As the writer articulately suggests, we need to take a step back to gain some perspective into our lives and from that bird’s eye view, be thankful for the little wonders we have, instead of always peering around the corner to see what’s next.

  • Your words touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. And yes… we are so busy and absorbed with our lives and always awaiting “the next big thing” rather than the here and now.
    In my humble opinion it sometimes takes extremes to realize these little miraculous blessings, either experiencing an overwhelming blessing and joy or through -God forbid- hardships. Sometimes these circumstances are our eye openers to the blessings we’re smothered with alhamdolellah.
    After reading your words, and realizing how genuine and sincere they are, where they acted as a sweet eye opener, where they make you pause and admire all the blessings that we take for granted. May all our blessings never go unnoticed.

  • Let me start with how I feel.
    My heart hurts. It bleeds, it cries. This article made me feel, hummm, how to articulate and not post a bunch of nonsensical babble.

    Did I enjoy reading this article?
    Did this book make an everlasting impression on me, in a good way?Yes.
    Would I read it again?
    Yes, I’m a masochist.
    What did this article teach me?
    Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live it to the best of your ability. And a whole lot more, I think you get my meaning.

    Lilly S. Mohsen you really know how to wake up feeling one didn’t know they ever had. Job well done!

  • Lilly I will cut it short cause I am all in tears. May Allah Bless you and May your Son grow up to see that he is the most gifted child on earth only because he has a mom like you!!!!!

  • Just like everyone else, I couldn’t help it… You made me pour out tears of both thankfulness and admiration. Lilly I respect you. And I have doubtless faith that a mother of a child with special needs is a woman that God choses– more special than any other. What HE has hidden must be a priceless reward. With your struggles, your tears, your perseverance – you build something that no one else could.
    You taught me to pause. To appreciate the tiniest details, and stop trying to “get things done.” We all need to appreciate more. May God shower you with his love and generosity.
    اللهم لك الحمد و الشكر
    Again, thank you for the enlightment.

  • Masha’Allah, beautiful words that reflect a beautiful heart. So many times, I have seen mothers of special needs kids interacting with their children, and I wonder at their patience and perseverance. Motherhood can be so challenging and exhausting, even without having to deal with atypical behaviors. Typical childhood behaviors are quite tough enough! May Allah SWT bless you with incredible patience in this life, and may He SWT reunite your whole family in the highest level of Jannah someday. May your son be healthy and joyful there, and may his gratitude for the love you gave him in the dunya be your key to any gate in Paradise. Ameen.

  • Its amazing how the sentence “our busy,empty lives” touched me,you summed up everything in it.Its so true how we’re all keeping ourseleves busy yet we sometimes feel unfulfilled and hollow.Your words are so inspiring and made me reconsider how im living my life and what i really need from so blessed to have you as my mentor AND sister.

  • for the first time my tears dropped while reading your words ,knowing that you suffer a lot in this dunya ,,and we all are praying for you and all your family,May Allah SWT bless you with incredible patience and help you ,and reward you all jannah et ferdaws ISA
    then you will live all happily ever after …
    يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ
    O mankind, indeed you are laboring toward your Lord with [great] exertion and will meet it. (6) Then as for he who is given his record in his right hand, (7) He will be judged with an easy account (8) And return to his people in happiness.

  • Every once in a while, I wake up scared and needing to read something to bring me some peace so I can try to go back to sleep. Reading your article gave me that, alhamdulilah. I know just what you mean by experiencing that “normalcy”, however far and few those moments are, it reminds me that Allah SWT is always here, guiding us. The challenges of raising a child with special needs is a difficult task, Alhamdulilah Allah felt we would all be up to the challenge. Thank you for your heartfelt article 🙂

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