Not So Special Needs Mom, Zachary's mother reads to him and his two able-bodied brothers back when they were kids.

Not So Special Needs Mom

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Remove the word “special” from “special needs mom.” Woah! Calm down. Okay, I am at fault. I should know better. My initial sentence risk seeming fighting words. After all, special needs moms largely prove a passionate bunch. May I request a do-over?

Thanks for the second chance. Today I will challenge perceptions regarding special needs moms. Well, I guess any special needs parent really. Although, I say special needs mom with reason. I am basing my post off a recent conversation with my own mother. A dialogue video captured and awaits your viewing pleasure.

Waking Up to Another Day

Waking Up to Another Day, nothing sounds special about that. Yet my mother selected those words to title her unwritten special needs mom memoir. Something you learned watching the video, right? You did watch, correct?

Her title choice accentuates a theme evident throughout our chat. You probably noticed. Again chancing repetitiveness, special needs lacks the inferred specialness.

In my own written and published cerebral palsy memoir Off Balanced, I attributed certain disagreements to my CP. Like chapter one “Changes,” where I recall the great stair debate. Questioning whether I should use the stairs at school directly correlated to my CP.

So yes, my mother’s comment “I never thought of it as a disagreement because you have cerebral palsy” opened my mind. Continuing she even described raising me as “just raising another child.” Before other special needs moms grow defensive, I caution you to watch the video. Understand the context to my mother’s remarks.

A Singular Constant

Everything truly stems back to my mother’s unwritten memoir title, Waking Up to Another Day. Repeating the sentiments I voice amidst our dialogue, I loved the title. Specifically the title’s ability to transcend special needs parenting won my favor. Waking Up to Another Day could also apply to mothering my two able-bodied brothers.

2005- Zachary with his mother following his high school graduation.

A loving parent helps set up a child for success.

See, my mother pointed out a fact I came to recognize through my advocacy efforts. Everyone possesses different strengths and weaknesses. Or to rephrase, everyone possesses different abilities and disabilities. These individual characteristics make parenting each child a unique experience.

The phrase “special needs parent” implies an alternate group. A category remains identifiable by a set parenting standard. Special needs parents and standard parents, per se. Nonetheless if every kid brings a distinctive parenting experience, does a standard actually exist?

Personally I say no. Instead I suggest you can find only a singular constant among good parents. Emphasize good too since some parents simply suck. Perhaps a topic we shall explore in a future post.

Returning to the now however, the lone consistency stands love. Many conflicts between parent and child share a common root, love. A parent’s love triggers actions a child deems frustrating or overprotective. Maybe you reading this greatly relate. Realize fights based off loving intentions equates to nice problems.

Speak Up Special Needs Moms and Dads!

Alright, thank you for hearing me out special needs moms and dads. Summarizing, I challenged perceptions involving special needs parenting. I dismissed your specialness. Rather I theorize every child presents a unique parenting challenge. A proposal founded on my recent conversation with my own mother. The chat you can check out on Youtube.

Speak up once you watch. Do you agree or disagree with my not so special needs theory? Leave your input in the “Comments” section below. To learn more about my clashes in opinion with my parents growing up, download my memoir Off Balanced to your Kindle or Nook today.

*Links to Off Balanced’s Amazon sales page connects with the Amazon LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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4 responses on “Not So Special Needs Mom

  1. Terri

    Thank you zach! You certainly understood what I was saying during our chat. Every child is unique and special in their own way. Therefore our parenting is also unique and special in how we relate to that child.

  2. markdeafmcguire

    It was a pleasure to watch both of you discuss this topic. Aye, parents are in a separate club once they become parents, and naturally, all the “best for their child/children” becomes part of that club.

    Similar to the best for everyone but with an emotional value that adds to the experience as a result of being a parent. You both are correct about the the impact of love/overprotection, something that separates a parents from an individual. Meaning an individual will not recognize it when they want to be independent and in some cases, the parent’s concern for safety might override that need for independence.

    I suppose there is a point somewhere along the line where the trust is established and both the parent and child are able to proceed without such concern.

    For example, cooking on a stove is dangerous if left unattended, however, over time if the parent taught the child out of love how to cook, and the child establishes a sense of awareness and responsibility for his/her action cooking on a stove (especially turning it off when done), then the inherent sense of fear is removed (maybe not 100 percent removed but mostly removed). As a result, the child establish independence.

    Terri is right about reaching out to the community, whether it is local or online, because no one knows everything. Just like Terri, my mother found a community of people who knew about different teaching methods (both established and experimental) for deaf and hard of hearing students.

    Not all communities have these opportunities, however, the odds are pretty good that they have a network and resources outside their communities that they are able to bring in even if it is for one child.

    One thing I am curious about though is whether families that includes a member who has CP have local gatherings with other families with a CP member. I’m not sure how to explain that question other than to use my own example as a deaf person. Growing up, I was the only deaf person in my hometown. However, every now and then, maybe two to four times a year, my family (whether it was just my mom and me or all four of us) would go out of town as far as an hour away to gatherings with other families with deaf/hard of hearing members.

    Obviously as a child, it was great to interact with other deaf/hoh kids my age, but I never really thought much about how much value it has for parents. Did your family engage in such local activity with other families with CP members? How much of a role did such experience (if any) help each of your family member in terms of shape the CP Vigilante’s childhood?

    1. Zachary Fenell Post author

      Great point about a trust eventually evolving Mark! I completed a half marathon last year and I think that is the perfect example of your point. If I expressed an interest in such an activity as a kid, I think my parents would’ve told me no in an attempt to protect me. Not once though during my training the past two years did they try to discourage me. They trusted I knew what I was doing. With regards to your question, no we did not meet up with anyone else from the CP community. Therefore I found isolation in CP issues growing up, but I persevered through. Ironically, now I run the online support group I mentioned, #CPChatNow.

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