Updated: Jan 26
There are few women in mortality as revered as the mother of children with special needs. This is with good reason.
These mothers love their children no matter their stage in life. In a day where milestones are eagerly awaited and publicly celebrated, it must be discouraging at times for the mothers whose children develop at different paces. When the walking doesn’t happen, the talking doesn’t come, the reading and writing remain to be developed in another time, perhaps in another life. While other mothers cheer on their children in countless extracurriculars, these mothers show support in other ways: therapies, meetings, and never-ending accommodations, each attended to with love and patience. Above all their other Christlike attributes, what I admire most about these mothers is their faith in Heavenly Father’s plan. They know with certainty that each of us has our own path in life, filled with hills and valleys that most others won’t experience. They know that while their children’s path may be difficult, it is a path the Saviors walks with them. These mothers know, maybe more than anyone else, that all that has been promised them and their children will one day be theirs, and they work and wait valiantly for that day when our minds and bodies will be made whole.
During my brief time caring for a baby with special needs, I received a heartfelt letter that offered me the strength that I needed. This fellow mother wrote about a conversation that could have happened in the premortal life, when this baby looked at all he would face in mortality and asked the Lord how he’d ever be able to succeed. The Lord replied, “I’m sending you an angel mother.”
Most of us are in agreeance that mothers of special needs children deserve our love and respect. But there is another type of mother, one who is equally faithful and equally in need of our love and support. Unfortunately, sometimes these mothers are forgotten. Today I speak to mothers of spirits with special needs.
Just as physical development happens at different ages, in different ways, and sometimes, in different lifetimes, spiritual development varies largely from child-to-child as well. These spiritual milestones are celebrated just as publicly as physical milestones, and are equally awaited. These milestones may be baptism, receiving the priesthood, attending the temple, celestial marriage, or raising children. It may be the development of a strong testimony and the ability the overcome trials the way we want them to be overcome. Sometimes, those milestones aren’t met when we thought they might be.
Some children don’t graduate from high school. Some spend time in jail. Some may fight addiction or mental illness. Some may choose beliefs that are far from what we taught them, but are well within their God-given agency to choose. Yet their mothers love them for who they are and where they are in their journey.
I have unending respect for the mothers of spirits with special needs. They have immense faith in Heavenly Father’s plan. They know with certainty that each of us has our own path in life, filled with hills and valleys that most others won’t experience. They know that while their children’s path may be difficult, it is a path the Savior walks with them. These mothers know, maybe more than anyone else, that all that has been promised them and their children will one day be theirs, and they work and wait valiantly for that day when our minds and bodies will be made whole.
To the mothers of special needs spirits, I share with you the story that a mother once shared with me. Maybe before your child came to Earth, he sat with God the Father, looking at all he would face in mortality, and asked, “How will I ever be able to succeed?”
I’m sure the Lord replied, “I’m sending you an angel mother.”
My friend, that angel mother is you. Your strengths and faith make you part of an elite group of women, trusted with caring for some of the Lord’s most precious children and helping them through the trials of mortality, whether that trial be physical, mental, spiritual, or otherwise.
Your child is developing according to God’s divine plan. Each bump in the road is carefully orchestrated to help you and your child grow closer to Him. He is pleased with your efforts and is nearby to lend a helping hand when you feel you are not enough. Always remember that one day, all that has been promised you and your children will be yours. The blessings are coming, the promises are sure, and you, my friend, are succeeding gloriously.