Right now my heart is aching for my baby.  Things I feel I lack the strength and ability to help her with.  Things I cannot fix.  My heart aches for my husband.  And for her siblings.  And for the normal I sometimes yearn for for all of us.

With all my might. 

It happens in waves amidst rich gratitude that she is ours: sorrow that makes me feel helpless. 

And it is mixed with a love so deep that it makes the helplessness black. 

A series of events led to making today one of those days where my eyes brimmed with tears all day long.  And when I looked over Grace’s shoulder at a picture on a post she was reading from my sister’s blog, it spoke to me:is there something on my back-_thumb[7]
“That is me,”  I thought. 

And the tears welled up again.

I want so much to be strong enough for all of them. 

Yet I am weak.

I want to give my heart to Heaven. 

So when I saw this next picture I thought, “that is me too.”she became herself with tears_thumb[3]
And a fat tear slipped quietly down my cheek, mirroring hers.

But the third one is the one that gave me peace:
Because I instantly I recognized myself again.

“That is me too,” I thought. 

The heaviness is still there, but so are those angels.  I can feel them.

I hope Lu can too.

(Artist information and my sister’s beautiful post here.)

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  1. Love the pictures. I have a child with a congenital heart defect. She got a bacterial infection in her heart and had her fourth open heart surgery last fall. She recently turned 12 and she is amazing. Sometimes I get so sad when I think about her heart having to work harder than ours All the time. I feel sad for my other girls when I am at the hospital taking care of her. I know I am the right Mom for all of them, imperfect as I am. I know I get support from the other side. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. PS Have you read the poem "Welcome to Holland"? It is a beautiful poem that I heard before I was married about raising a special needs child. That poem holds such a special place in my heart.

  3. Shawni, I don't have words of experience or wisdom for you, but I feel compelled to share what small words my heart does know.

    Simply, you are loved.

    That is a strange sentence to write to a stranger and yet truth is there. strangers or not.

  4. Thank you so much for this post-I have been feeling so overwhelmed lately (more than usual) about how to parent one of my children with the struggles that she faces. Those first two pictures express perfectly how I have been feeling & the third picture reminds me that I have help in this most important role of mother! Thank you!

  5. I will have your family in my prayers. I don't know what you're experiencing, but i recognize those feelings. I'm confident that god takes no pleasure in our suffering. I would hug you if I could. You certainly don't have to give details. Thank you for sharing your sweet lu with us. She has been such an inspiration, and you such a force for good.

  6. Such an impactful post.
    I have 2 children with special needs (6 year old with low vision, and multiple eye disorders, and a 13 year old with type 1 diabetes), and this quote says it all for me: “Its hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but its harder to give up when you know its everything you want.”
    Praying both you,Lucy, and the rest of your family find peace in whatever comes. Hugs

  7. Shawni, as I was reading your mom's article yesterday, I felt your pain through her words. That's why I commented what a writer she is and that's why I sent you a virtual hug. You are doing amazing job. I pray for Lu, and for you. And again, sending you another hug. There's never enough of them.

  8. Again the thought to read your blog was another answer to prayers. Your words are words I say often. I too have a child who has challenges in this life, that effect our family. I pray often to know how to teach love, charity, understanding to my family while needing to learn it myself. My heartbreaks if I allow myself to think of the future, however I than remember that I am looking through the wrong eyes. As elder holland said, Christ is the high priest of good things to come, no matter if on earth they are heartbreaking. Thank you again for sharing yourself. I needed those pictures, I needed to be reminded that it is not my burden to carry. I pray for peace today for your family

  9. Thank you so much for bravely sharing your heart with us. You are strong Shawni, unbelievably strong! Through all the pain I can tell you are leading your family through these struggles with great strength, wisdom, and love.

  10. Shawni, I wish I had the perfect words and abilities to just make everything better for you…for you and for all those around you and everywhere that are feeling sorrow. But I don't…so please just know that my prayers (as well as many other readers prayers) are with you….

    Thank you so much for your blog. I've been having very minor and little struggles lately but I feel like the mom in the first painting. It is important for me to realize that the load on my back is much lighter than the load others carry. Little problems are little problems and it is important to see the big picture.

  11. isn't it interesting that when you follow a blog you become so attached to the people you follow? I immediately thought "I wonder if I can take them dinner or bring her a treat or a soda?" How can I lighten my new friends load? you have lightened my load many times. Our families chore charts and money system, new ways I parent, books and read, quotes my children have to memorize and so much more. Thank you for being a new friend. My family will pray for you and yours since we can't bring you a meal or a treat….that would be weird and stalkery. 😉 Hope your load is lighter and you feel the Saviors love for you and your Lucy.

  12. Shawni, if you have a moment read over Elder Bednar's talk The Enabling Power of the Atonement in the March 2013 Ensign.I absolutely love that talk! I'm sure you have read it, but it speaks to my troubled heart and lifts me up out of the despair that we all feel at one time or another in our lives.

  13. Shawni:
    Thank you for keeping things real……your grace and eloquence during this trying time with your beloved Lu is most appreciated.

  14. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

  15. thank you.
    I was thinking of this all day yesterday. I have seen those paintings before, but need to visualize that last one more often.
    special needs mamas have tears. it's just what happens (hard to drive home from specialists appts while crying!). hugs and one day at a time.

  16. The last picture in this post made me think of this quote by Elder Holland "In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike – and they will – you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed". That quote gives me such comfort knowing that there's help on the other side, even though we don't see it. You're tough, and you're a good mom Shawni. I may not know you, but I'm praying for you

  17. Thank you so much for sharing these. My days have felt like this recently too, and every little uplift helps! Thoughts and prayers for you and your family!

  18. The poem is lovely but as a mom to a family who also ended up in Holland I must say Holland sucks. I don't blame the travel agent, or pilot or even the people of Holland, but I didn't want to come here and I don't like it here.

    It is a helpless feeling. The universe is teaching me valuable lessons at the expense of my child.

    I used to think a lot of your family's notion of making decisions in advance and thought all the right choices would make life rosie and much easier. Some things you can't problem solve your way out of. Life finds a way to happen to you even if you make every right decision.

    I know everyone is trying to cheer you up. But God gave us tears to use. Can't appreciate feelings of joy without experiencing some sorrow.

    So my goal is to be happy everyday, I just realize being happy all day is a stretch. Maybe someday? Comic relief helps. There sure is plenty of that in life.

    I needed that picture with the angels in my mind twice yesterday. It is hard to feel there is heaven's presence during my son's aggression.

  19. I appreciate greatly this post- more then any other post I have ever read here. That last painting spoke to me as well. It made me think of this quote from Elder Holland-
    His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel.

    I too struggle- with enormous heart break for my child, with doubt, and sometime I feel overwhelmed with the help around me. Have a good night.

  20. As like many that have commented I too have a child that has special needs. What I see looking at others post is that we, mother, brake a part for our children, feel alone and wish for the ability mend our children. When what we are is many with strength.

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