‘I used to think my success as a mother was measured by my children’s milestones.’: Special needs mom urges ‘accomplishments don’t equal a life well-lived’

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“I used to think my success as a mother was measured by my children’s milestones.

If they were a valedictorian walking across a stage, or a bride walking down an aisle, it meant as a mother, I had done it right.

My worth was wrapped up in what they could accomplish.

And then I discovered both of my children had autism.

A few years into parenting children with special needs, I now know a secret few parents are privy to:

The only way to fully love a child is to love them for their identity—not their abilities.

Courtesy of Stephanie Hanrahan

Because of autism, I no longer see scored goals or straight As as markers of success. I no longer believe if I played an instrument then they must, too.

The most miraculous milestones in our household are their loud laughter, happy flaps, and a million other daily miracles which go unseen by the common eye, but sum up exactly who they are.

Children are made by us, but their identities are entirely unique. And a parent’s job is not to push a child toward performance or perfectionism or their own idea of success—it’s to embrace the person they were always intended to be.

Accomplishments don’t equal a life well-lived.

Acceptance does.

Every child deserves the opportunity to be themselves.”

Courtesy of Stephanie Hanrahan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hanrahan. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Stephanie:

‘There’s a rule at my daughter’s school. If you’re going to invite one child to your birthday party, you’re required to invite them all.’: Mom of autistic daughter says ‘You never know the gift you’ll get by simply saying yes to every child’

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‘You are a giving up years of your life to guarantee another human has the best years of theirs. You are a good, good mother’: Woman pens letter of gratitude to stay-at-home moms

‘My husband and I married. ‘I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom,’ I declared. With little push-back from him, out popped 2 children.’: SAHM’s candid feelings on feeling ‘horribly unseen’

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