By Jamie Sumner
I did not know I would need to become more powerful when I became a mother. But when you have a child with special needs, you learn to fight like a warrior for the one you love, the one you bore, the one who cannot fight for himself.
“Advocate” was not part of my vernacular until motherhood. It’s a term you’ll hear tossed about a lot in the special needs world. Generally speaking, to advocate is to publicly fight for a cause, or in this case, a person. To embrace both the noun and verb forms of this word I would have to grow more powerful than I ever thought possible. I would have to grow all the parts of me that ran from the spotlight.
I was the girl who worked well nicely sandwiched within a group. I was not a leader. But what is as a mother if not a leader? My son needed me to find the power to brave the front lines of his world. When the insurance companies shook their heads, I learned to shake it off and barrel on with appeals and doctor’s letters and my own voice, louder and unfamiliar in its confidence.
When the money ran out and we sifted through therapies like a deck of cards, sadly discarding the ones that didn’t fit our current hand, I powered through the grant process, applying for funding that would bring our son back in the therapy game. I never knew I could play with the pros.
Motherhood, for me, means advocacy. It means power I could never wield on my own. It is the sword in the stone, only free to those who intend to use it for good. And who are we if not fighters for good above all else?
Jamie Sumner is a writer for Parenting Special Needs Magazine and the mother of a son with cerebral palsy and twins. She writes with humor about infertility and special needs parenting on her website, The Mom Gene. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.