Being an advocate is a big part of my role as a mommy to kids with special needs. My kids are three years old and don’t have the words to express their needs and wants in most situations. They are getting better at expressing their need for food, milk, attention, etc. but there are still so many things that they don’t know or understand, especially when it comes to their special needs.
Being an advocate for our children is the role of any mommy or daddy, it just comes with a few more layers with kids with special needs. We need to be the voice of our children during IEP’s (Individual Education Plan) at school, with doctors to get them the therapies, visits to see specialists and help they need, with other parents who may not understand why we can’t “control our child” or with our church as we navigate Sunday school as the lines are blurry about which class they really fit in.
Being an advocate can be exhausting, especially when you feel at conflict within.
I am a people pleaser. I don’t like feeling like I am causing conflict. I would rather just drop a situation or let it go rather than feel like I am being a burden to someone else or causing them added stress or discomfort.
At the same time, I struggle with what I feel is fair or right. When situations come up, I can easily get frustrated when I feel like an injustice has occurred. My conflict lies in that I feel strongly about the perceived injustice and yet I may not act on it because I don’t want to cause conflict or hurt someone else.
I often feel like a failure in my role as advocate for my children. I struggle with when to push something and when to let it go.
I am struggling with one of these situations right now. I struggle with how far to push something for one of our children and how to push for it in a loving yet persistent way. Niel and I have spent time talking and praying about it and yet we don’t really know how to proceed.
Being an advocate can be lonely.
Yet, if we don’t speak out on behalf of our children, who will?
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit knows a little bit about what it means to be an advocate. I may feel alone sometimes but am I really?
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:16-18
The Holy Spirit lives with me and is with me. He advocates for and helps me. Jesus said that he would not leave us as an orphan (with nobody to speak up and help us, without a mother or father to care for us) but he would come for us and has given us the Holy Spirit.
I know a little bit about orphans, my daughter was one. She did not have anyone to speak up for her and help her. She does now. She has a mommy and daddy.
So, when I struggle with how to best advocate for my children, it is so good to remember that I too have an advocate. He is willing to help me. He will not leave me alone. He cares about our kids and he cares about me!