Dads of kids with special needs are often forgotten in the special family dynamic.
I’m lucky enough to know several fathers of amazing kids with special needs. These dads are the best of the best. They go above and beyond typical parenting. Just like moms of kids with special needs, the dads have extraordinary jobs put upon them. Perhaps it’s diapering for 10+ years, or bathing their children for life.
My own husband does most of the caregiving of our son. Joel is the one who gets up with Jamie for the middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom. Joel helps him eat, get dressed, and takes him to therapy. He gets him ready for bed, reads to him, plays on the floor with him, and when we’re out and about takes him to the bathroom in public restrooms. Jamie is a man, basically, so it’s hard for me to maneuver him. I do the behind the scenes caregiving, the organization of the household. The laundry, the cooking, keeping meds up to date, making appointments, etc. It’s just how our parenting duties have been divided over the years.
We have several friends who are just like Joel.
I’ve seen one dad walking right next to his daughter for hours at playgroup, just in case she needs something. She prefers to walk and look at things so he stays right beside her for her safety. Then there’s the dad who sets up feedings like a pro. And the dad who is on the fence line watching his kids play Miracle League baseball, as dads do.
I think what bothers me about it is that these dads are often left out when society talks about special needs parenting. Moms are always discussed, our feelings, the amazing things we do to fight for our kids, the way we do battle at schools for the best education and doctors’ offices to get the right care, the love we show to our kiddos. But not many people take into consideration that there is often a dad in the picture who is fighting with us and supporting us along the way. He’s not hailed as a hero. If we moms of kids with special needs are Wonder Woman, then our husbands/partners are Superman.
If you have a child who is developmentally delayed, you might miss out on some pretty amazing milestones. It’s not just us moms who feel like we got robbed of all that life has to offer with our kids. Dads have just as much right to feel like the rug was pulled out from under them.
There are days when my husband looks out the window into our cul-de-sac and sees the high school boys playing basketball and it makes him feel like he’s been punched in the gut. Our son isn’t capable of doing so. Joel won’t get to do a lot of things with Jamie that are normal activities for dads and their sons.
But you know what he does get to do?
Everything humanly possible to make Jamie’s life a little better. Just like any other dad would do, he works hard so he can play hard with his kids and take care of them to the best of his ability. I’ve said it before: I’m so glad I’m parenting with Joel. He is the best daddy to both of our kids.
There are so many amazing fathers in our lives and I feel like they don’t get the recognition they deserve. Not just on Father’s Day, but every day.