Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent


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ImageMy children are my world. I live and breathe for their happiness. I have freely and lovingly given up my career in order to be a stay-at-home mom: and I LOVE IT! I love everything about staying home with our eleven year old cognitively impaired daughter, and our neurotypical four year old son. Yes, there are some not so happy times, but, God, every milestone, every smile, every moment of joy I have been privy to see, if not be part of. I take being a mom very seriously. My children are my gift to the world, my bequeath to mankind. It is my labor of love. That’s why when things go badly it hits me so hard.

And today, things went bad. Very, very bad.

We try to do as many “normal” excursions with our children as possible. My daughter – the tween! – has the cognitive functioning of a four year old, and we have an actual four year old son. It can be difficult to take both out at once, especially when I am on my own. But over the past couple of years, things have been relatively good. Things have been getting better to the point that I have been doing more and more “normal” outings.

“E” tends to be super clingy. She never even gets out of the car without taking hold of my hand. I can’t get her to walk two feet in front of me without her stopping and looking for me. She sits outside the bathroom door when I go potty. For those reasons alone she has been such a good girl and easy kid to take in public.

Today my friend and her kids, and I and my kids all went to the beach. We’ve not done the beach many times, but given “E’s” great behavior lately, I wasn’t too worried. We packed the sand toys, boogie boards, sunscreen and water bottles. We were so excited. This was going to be a great day. I just knew it!

The kids built sandcastles. Then, a little later, I took them by the hand and led them to the water. We kicked the water at each other, and screamed when the splash went higher than our knees. We collected shells. Then we went back to our umbrella and beach chairs. I set the kids up with their buckets and pails, and sat down to watch their play. I looked in my bag for a bottled water, found it, cracked it open, and drank.

I turned to ask the kids what they were making. And couldn’t find “E.” I left my son with my friend and ran up and down the beach calling her name. It seemed like I was moving slow motion. All I could think was Is this how it ends? I just killed my child. She’s drowned. I was making my way to the lifeguard stand when I saw the hero lifeguard, hand-in-hand, leading “E” down the beach.

I hugged her. I yelled at her to never do that to me again. I hugged her more. I thanked God. And we packed up and went home.

I don’t know that I will ever do the beach again. I keep having images in my head of finding her floating face down, of her being kidnapped and molested. So many terrible things could have happened to my little girl today. I know I will have a very hard time falling asleep tonight. But her? She is blissfully asleep. Sleeping the sleep of the innocent. This incident is nothing to her. She doesn’t know the fates she escaped. She doesn’t know the fear still sitting in my throat.

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