Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent

Goal for 2013: A Life Well-Lived

MC900438984It’s finally here: 2013. We’ve said buh-bye to 2012 – some of us have flipped it the bird, kicked it in the crotch and tossed some Mommy language it’s way. Or, maybe that’s just me! Regardless, 2012 is done and over, 2013 is here, and, like I’ve seen throughout Facebook, 2013 has 365 opportunities to have a great day.

The challenge is to take those opportunities and make the best of the situation you have. Of course this applies to everyone, but for families with special needs children, often we get bogged down with the “can’ts”, “won’ts” and “will never be able tos”. This year, however – this year – I want to change my mindset. I want to focus on the quality of our life, rather than the perceived limitations. I want to be able to let go of the negative mindset that I too often find myself in, and hold on to hope, successes of all shapes and sizes, and go out of my way to make my son giggle more this year. This is my challenge, and one I’ll throw your way, too!

This year, I am going to focus on the things that my autistic son can do. I am going to try to stop looking at the glass half-full and appreciate what success our son has achieved. I want to look at him and marvel at the happiness and joy he brings, rather than only see the struggles and delays.

Perhaps it is the nature of the beast: all of the appointments and specialists we see – everyfone asks what the problems are. Again with the limitations and issues, problem areas and delays, challenges and questions. Only rarely does someone say to me at the end of our appointment and ask, “Tell me something special about your son.” Or, “What are things you really enjoy doing with your son?” I think I have just plain forgotten – as pathetic as that sounds – to appreciate the smiles and giggles. I’m too busy charting trends and making notes to show what’s going on with behaviors, stims or tics.

So. I need to take a step back. Somehow I need to separate the medical and psychological need of charting this stuff from the need, as a mother, to enjoy my son and, again, APPRECIATE my son for the wonder that he is.

This is a big challenge. It is a total shift in thought and change in mindset. No longer will I look for “problems”, but, rather, I will look for success – no matter how small. As I say, it is a challenge, but I want to make sure my son and family has a life well-lived, regardless of skillset, adaptive functioning or alphabet soup diagnoses.


All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

– Henry Ellis

463234_3030003243542_410358418_oWritten by Kelly Hafer

Kelly is a Navy wife and mother to three children; 16 year old NT, 6 and 5 year old boys on the spectrum; and, since life was getting a touch boring, she’s added a bun in the oven. Kelly has been featured in a collection of essays on special needs children entitled, “Wit and Wisdom From the Parents of Special Needs Children.” She can also be found at, and as a guest blogger throughout the blog-iverse. In her spare time, Kelly is the Blog Master for, and member of, the Military Special Needs Network Executive Board. You can contact her via email at

6 comments on “Goal for 2013: A Life Well-Lived

  1. J-Nut
    January 4, 2013

    I struggle with this too. It is so hard to appreciate what I do have, especially when our facebook feeds are full of photos of everyone on vacation, full of smiles and achievement. Thanks for the reminder that it isn’t about them and that we can have our own life well lived!

    • militaryspecialneedsnetwork
      January 6, 2013

      Hey Jen – thanks for the validation. It IS hard. I’m really glad to know I’m not the only one experiencing this.

  2. Niksmom
    January 4, 2013

    It’s such a hard balance to strike when you have a child with substantial needs. I have found this to be especially difficult lately. I think I’ll take a page from your book for 2013 and try this, too. Happy New Year!

  3. Blogginglily
    January 4, 2013

    that’s that “deficit model” everyone keeps talking about. I like your way better.

  4. militaryspecialneedsnetwork
    January 6, 2013

    That’s a real thing? I just thought I was a terrible person! I must Google this. Thanks, Jim.

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