By Kodey Toney
Mother Knows Best
I know I’m a little late at the Mother’s Day shout-out, but I want to make sure that I address the fact that mothers of children with autism and other disabilities are some of the hardest working parents on the planet. I know there’s no competition, but I have to say that coping with a child on the spectrum can be physically and emotionally draining. There are times when a child can go from happy to meltdown in a split second, and you feel helpless. With that in mind I want to salute the mothers in the disability world.
There is a video that is going around the internet asking people to apply for a job that requires you to work 365 days a year, with no pay, and no sick days. The job pays nothing, and in the end you find out that the job is being a mother. Everyone in the video who actually applied for this job and have an interview over the internet have this ah-ha moment when they realize that their mother sacrificed so much for them and decide to call their maternal figure to thank them.
I think this appreciation is well deserved. With that, I want to make sure that everyone knows how much I appreciate my wife, Jennifer, who is my inspiration and works hard not just for Konner, and even Kruz, but she works to help any child she can through her job as a special education director and teacher. She pushes herself to the limit sometimes working to help anyone she sees that has a need. She exhausts herself physically and emotionally, and comes home often to crash and breakdown in tears when she has a child that she just can’t figure out how to do. She fights and argues with her co-workers at times when she feels like the child’s best interest is not being met. She does everything that she can to make sure that they get all the services they need to make their education and life better.
This, as I said, is not just for her children with needs. She has done this throughout her 10-plus-years as a teacher. She got into the business for the right reason. She wanted to help children. She’s not in it for the time off, and she’s especially not in it for the money…there is none.
Jen is patient, loving, caring, forgiving, intelligent, and diligent. All of these qualities make her a great wife, teacher, and an awesome mother.
I think that if you look at mothers of children with disabilities you will see this blueprint. It takes all of these qualities to endure the long nights, screaming outbursts, judgmental looks and conversations, loss of close friends, condemning family members, hours of travel to and from therapies, doctor appointments, IEP meetings, evaluations, and school visits.
They say it takes a special person to raise a child with a disability. I think that’s not the best way to put it. A child with a disability will make you a better person, or at least it did in my case…or at least I hope it did. With Jen though, she has been that way for as long as I’ve known her, which has been almost 20 years. She loved her students before she had any of her own. When we had Konner you could tell that special love was amplified. I think she asks herself, “What would I do if this was my child?” This question fills her with each child she has to make a decision for at work. For this reason she is one of the greatest mothers I know, but she’s also one of the greatest teachers and people I know. She exemplifies what most mothers with children on the spectrum are like.
For any mother of a child with a disability, happy belated Mother’s Day. I hope you get the recognition you deserve for the hard work you put into making a better life for your child.