I just lost my beloved mom two months ago. I was really sad because I wasn’t able to go home to take care of her nor attend her funeral. I know, Mother’s day will never be the same. This year, the first time without her maybe the hardest. Deep in my heart though, I still feel joyful that she is now in the best place, no more suffering and pain. Isn’t that the greatest luxury on Mother’s Day? To be with our Saviour, singing with the angels continuously? What a beautiful celebration!
Mama as you know was a special needs mom, who has cared for our family of twelve with two special needs kids who grew up to become adults, though Pangga, my sister with Down syndrome, passed away a few years back.
Please join me here at Pangga ta Ikaw as I honor five special needs moms on their big day, Mother’s day. We know that they have done a lot and are still doing great things for their families and of course for their special child. They are very patient and very loving and ” giving unconditional love, ” is their mantra.
Read on their stories on how their special kids, despite challenges in raising them, make their families extra joyful and blessed.
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Emerald with Hailey
Our first mom, Emerald was 36 when she had Hailey, her daughter with Down syndrome, who is now almost five.
She has 2 other daughters who are older than Hailey.
As an elementary school teacher, her days are always full and busy. But her family is her priority.
What is your biggest challenge in raising Hailey?
” It is how to keep her healthy because simple colds can lead to something serious.”
How do you cope with Hailey’s inadequacies or incapacities?
” I always try to be very patient and understanding of her and asks help from her older sisters, so I don’t get overwhelmed.
I appreciate all the little developments that she shows everyday. Like at her age now, she is able to express herself with simple words. “
How does Hailey make you and your family happy?
” Hailey is a very happy child; she learned the word “love” and with that she extends her hand to hug and kiss.
It makes my day and gives me comfort even on a very tiring day.”
What do you do to celebrate Mother’s day?
” Since my husband is away, I celebrate this day with my daughters.
We usually eat out in one of the simple restaurants in our town, or if it’s a weekend, we go to the beach, which Hailey might be anxious to experience at first but eventually, she enjoys it.
This year because of COVID, we will just stay home and I will prepare something special.”
How does Hailey affect your life as a mom?
” Having Hailey is one of the greatest things that happened to me and my family.
She makes our life more special with her unending expression of love..it’s like everyday is Mother’s Day.
Hailey makes me realize that though some people maybe be lacking in terms of mental capacity or even physical skills but the ability to show affection can be expressed in so many ways.
Lastly, she makes me realize that we can be very happy even in small things and that’s what actually really matters. “
Diane with Nathan
At 42 and after 11 years from having her first born daughter, Diane gave birth to Nathan, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome right after delivery.
It was not easy for her to accept the diagnosis but nevertheless, named his son Nathaniel, which means ” gift from God.”
At around 2 years old, Nathan showed signs of autism and was diagnosed when he was three.
Nathan is now going 15 and although can say some very few words, basically he is non-verbal.
Diane works part time as a bedside nurse and with her husband, takes turns in taking care of Nathan.
What is your biggest challenge in raising Nathan?
” At around 2-3 years old, after Nathan got the very first and last flu shot, he got sick for about a week with slight fever. Then we noticed that he stopped talking.
I was really hesitant for him to get this shot but his doctor encouraged us, so I firmly believe until now that this caused him to lose all his words.
I got so upset and angry with the doctor and called the clinic right away to inform them.
Eventually he showed signs of autism, until at 6 years old, he was given another booster of vaccines, that I believed made his autism worse.
Nowadays, our greatest struggles with him is cutting his nails every week and his hair every few months. No hair dresser would like to trim his hair because he flails his arms around and kicks a lot.
He is getting stronger each day and his dad needs to hold him tight because he fights with all his might. “
How do you cope with Nathan’s inadequacies or incapacities?
” Together with my husband, who is also a nurse, and my daughter, who loves his brother a lot, we take turns in caring for Nathan.
Until now, it’s still hard for me to see him not able to associate properly with kids his age.
We just take each day’s struggles as challenges that eventually and hopefully will make Nathan better especially in his speech and self-care later in his life.”
How does Nate make you and your family happy?
” Although Nate is basically non-verbal, he can say a few words like stop, done, outside, go away, bye, and please. This makes us happy that at least he can express himself in his own simple way.
Nate is also a very neat and organized kid. He loves to shower every night, loves to brush his teeth morning and night time , all with assistance and no tantrums.
He’s a little bit responsible of his personal belongings like every time he comes home from school or outside, he puts away his shoes by himself. When he takes off his clothes, he puts them in the hamper. When he is done with his snacks and drinks, he puts the dishes in the counter.
Nathan makes us smile too when he goes to the mirror and tries to act out anything. He is amused himself doing this, as well. Maybe he is an actor in the making, who knows? “
What do you do to celebrate Mother’s day?
” If I’m not working, we usually eat out in a restaurant after attending mass. This year because of the pandemic, we will just stay home and maybe I will cook something special for my family.
Ever since Nathan attended school, he brings home a Mother’s day card or a small pot of plant from school. This makes my day! “
How does Nate affect your life as a mom?
” I may have accepted my son as special, but there are lots of times that I feel sorry for him especially if I see our family friends’ kids of his age and they can already do things and here is Nathan, still unable to read and write.
There’s 5 boys of them that’s almost Nathan’s age and he can’t just socialize with them. Nathan would just sit in the sofa watching them or watching television, but he’s happy though to see them running around the house playing. “
Lee with Mark
At 42, Lee gave birth to her youngest and only boy, Mark, also a Down syndrome kid.
He is now 12, but is still non-verbal. Mark has 3 older sisters.
Lee is a full time government employee and juggles her time with family and work, which sometimes call her on weekends.
Related post: A mother’s unconditional love… it is for real
What is your biggest challenge in raising Mark?
” Starting Mark on solid food is really a struggle. He cannot properly swallow solid food, so we have to prepare them always in a blender.
Growing up, Mark relied mostly on milk and he had frequent diarrhea, thus he would be confined to the hospital a lot of times.
Until now, his food is still processed in a blender and being given to him by me or his dad or nanny. He still cannot feed himself.
Mark is only partially toilet-trained as well, so still needs lots of assistance. “
How do you cope with Mark’s inadequacies or incapacities?
” I have ever since accepted Mark for what he is and although taking care of him is challenging, I have lots of support in my husband, my daughters and his nanny.
Patience, understanding, and acceptance of what he can do everyday keeps me grounded. I don’t expect anything but just appreciate what he is and what he can do.
I still believe that eventually he will be able to talk and will be able to be toilet-trained.
When? In due time. “
How does Mark make you and your family happy?
” Mark is easy to take care of, he is able to follow simple instructions, like taking the hand of his grandparents or us his parents or other elders to his forehead as a sign that he is asking for God’s blessings.
He has no tantrums and just loves watching TV at home.
Although he cannot express himself, his mere presence in our lives with his innocence make us realize that life can be as simple with just the basic needs and still be happy.”
What do you do to celebrate Mother’s day?
” Usually, we prepare some food and celebrate with my family and my parents. Nothing extravagant, but just getting together as a family. Last year, my sister abroad gave me and my mom a special cake for the occasion and it added to the festive ambiance of the small lunch that I prepared for my family and my parents and brother.
But since my mom passed away only two months ago, Mother’s day this year is sad, but it is my Dad’s birthday the next day, so I have to be strong for him. I know my siblings abroad will be calling him and we will all be happy catching up. I will prepare something for my family and my dad and special brother.
Mother’s Day makes me realize how challenging it is being a mom especially since I have a special child. “
How does Mark affect your life as a mom?
” Mark is a blessing to our family. He may have made my life busier and more challenging, but at the end of the day, taking care of him is a joy and source of satisfaction.
He may be delayed in his development but because of that, I always feel that having a ” baby” ( Mark ) in our midst keep me humble and full of simple joy. “
Mylene with Alyanna
After 2 kids , Mylene at 38 had Alyanna, who was diagnosed later to have Cornelia de Lange syndrome.
Now 8 years old, Alyanna is still non-verbal but has learned to walk on her own and has started school. She is now in grade 2 and she enjoys going to school even though she has not learned her ABCs at all.
Mylene, who is working part-time at a senior’s home, has always a full plate with three young kids, including a special one.
What is your biggest challenge in raising Alyanna?
” Starting from Alyanna’s diagnosis, I have accepted that she has delayed physical and mental development. Having studied nursing, it was not so hard for me to take care of her.
Until at almost 3 years old, we were advised to submit Alyanna to have open heart surgery for a hole in her heart which was noted when she was more than a year old. The doctor had to observe for a few months to see if it would close spontaneously.
We had to fly all the way to another city where the heart surgeon was. We stayed in the hospital for 5 days after surgery ( including 2 days in intensive care unit ).
My husband and I were quite stressed during that time because we did not know the outcome and thinking that she is so young , so small and so frail, we were not sure if Alyanna would recover fully and come out safe after the surgery.
Thank God we were able to get out of hospital with her then already smiling, eating apple sauce and yoghurt, and on the road to recovery.”
How do you cope with Alyanna’s inadequacies or incapacities?
” I’m so thankful for the support of my family-my husband is hands on giving food to Alyanna and taking care of her during his off days from work. Even my daughter who is almost 12 can take care of her, as well. And her older brother can now pitch in when I’m busy or at work.
I can also count for help with my two other sisters who just live close by.
So, family support does the trick for me.”
How does Alyanna make you and your family happy?
” Alyanna smiles a lot, she giggles, too especially when her sister tickles her.
When I arrive home from work, she lets me feel that she misses me by hugging and kissing me when I get to hold her.
Her mere presence in our lives is a blessing and we appreciate every little thing that she can do.
Lately, she enjoys walking back and forth around the house. She’s like telling us, ” See, I am independent and can take care of myself.” She watches the Nursery rhymes on TV and just plays on her own, tapping her toys or throws them away when she’s bored with them, perhaps.
She has improved a lot in the three years that she has attended school. Alyanna is more attentive and more sociable now. “
What do you do to celebrate Mother’s day?
” It’s usually an extended family celebration, either at home or someone else’s home or at the park. It’s always a potluck thing where every family brings their specialty. It’s all about food, stories, games, singing, and laughter.
This year though we will just stay home because we need social distancing so we won’t get infected with the Corona virus. I will just prepare something special for my family or order some food.
My 2 older kids who are in the elementary and even Alyanna who is in SPED, gives me special crafts on this day and they validate my job as their special mom. “
How does Alyanna affect your life as a mom?
” With Alyanna around, life is always happy. Whose heart would not leap as she giggles and laughs when tickled or even for no reason at all?
I know she is God’s gift to us, who will always keep us grounded and humble.
Alyanna is our reality check.”
Berling with Pangga
This is my mom’s story, that I will share again and again, especially now that she has joined our Creator and Pangga, her beloved daughter.
My Mama Berling, who had a small retail business, has 10 kids. Pangga, my sister with Down syndrome, is the sixth child and she had her when she was 29 years old.
My mom married at a very young age, did you figure that out?
Having 10 kids is also something. I only have one and he is a handful.
I really appreciated my mom when I got married and had my own child.
Mama breastfed all of us and had every baby home-delivered by a traditional midwife. She would also need the assistance of that traditional midwife to take care of her babies like bathing them, until maybe two months old.
She was a really hardworking and responsible parent. She did not go to any business school, but because of determination and hard work, she was able to contribute enough for the family’s finances. My dad worked full time as a government employee with just the basic salary.
Watch this video of our tribute to the most beautiful mother inside and out.
Jill of all trades
In one of our family reunions, we gave her the award, ” Jill of all trades ,” ( from Jack and Jill ) because she was into several pursuits when she was raising her family.
When we were younger, she learned how to sew anything from ladies’ brassieres to girls’ dresses and hair accessories and she would sell these items in a makeshift store in local communities during special occasions in any town in the province where we lived.
She would also accept dressmaking orders from clients. Aside from having a retail store at home, I remember at one time she had two stores in different locations. She repacked household food items like sugar and spices that she sold on her store.
Growing up, we kids would reluctantly help her with these. I guess kids are always like this, lol!
My mom always had paid help in her businesses and around our home. In fact, we grew up with different nannies every few months or years, except for one who really stayed with us for a long time until she got married and even came back when her kids were grown up.
Aside from the retail stores, my mom was good at cooking any food that she would sell, like snack items or dessert which were made from scratch.
She was the most persistent businesswoman I know. We kids definitely learned how to be responsible from her because we would always be asked to assist her in all these endeavors.
So, with all her busy business life, you may ask:
How did she raise us, ten kids with 2 special ones?
Of course, as I mentioned awhile back, we always had nannies to help. My younger brother who has mental retardation stayed at home and was trained to take care of himself and to help around the house.
Pangga, on the other hand, who really developed late, physically and mentally, stayed with my mom’s aunt in another town and would come to visit us every few months, until she stayed with us in her later years leading to her death.
All of us siblings were also trained to pitch in with the household chores and in her stores, so everybody helped. The older siblings would be baby sitters with the younger ones, as we were growing up. Since I am the oldest daughter, I was usually tasked to be like the mom when Mama was away or busy in her stores.
Generosity as a family trait
Aside from being a very responsible mom, she was also very generous with her siblings and other people around her. She and my dad , when we were still young, provided for the school expenses of two of her sisters, a trait which we copied with our own siblings down the line.
Being a big family, whose parents are medium income earners, who would have imagined that we all could successfully finish university, except for the 2 special ones?
It all started with an all out financial help for our studies, for me and my older brother, from one of my mom’s sisters who worked as a nurse abroad. I believe she got this benevolent trait from my mom, as well.
This then started the tradition in our family of sending to school our younger siblings and the next in line, until everybody graduated.
Celebrating Mother’s day
We may not have celebrated Mother’s day big time when we were younger, but now that we have our own families, we realize that our ” Mama Berling,” has been a source of inspiration for all of us for being so resourceful, responsible and caring.
Since most of us now live abroad, we tried our best to call her on this special day and hand out some cash gifts to make her smile.
Last year, I requested my sister to buy a Mother’s day cake for Mama and for her as well. My sister’s family and my parents with my other special brother had a small celebration at home and with us kids video-calling her that day meant a lot to her and to us.
Little did we know that it was our last Mother’s Day celebration with her. We will always remember and love you Mama, not only on Mother’s Day but everyday.
A big hole in her heart
When Pangga passed away, being the first in our family to leave us, my mom got so depressed for a few months. She couldn’t sleep and eat and felt so useless.
We, the kids have come to the rescue to fill the void in her heart!
We made a schedule so that almost daily, she received a call ( most of us are based abroad ) from us kids and her grandchildren, to cheer her up and to make her feel that we are here for her and we still need her.
Of course we prayed a lot, as well.
Thank GOD she eventually recovered and later, even if she was getting frail and not as active and productive at home, she and my dad and my special brother enjoyed tending a vegetable garden at a place where she felt she was useful and happy.
This was quite an expensive hobby; selling the produce from the garden was way less than the amount that they spent on fares to go back and forth and the salary that she gave to the workers, but who cares?
This was her happy place and this was what made her wake up early in the morning, rather than sleep in and wake up at noontime to go back to sleep again after a few hours.
Keeping her busy in the garden, even just overseeing her workers, made her days feel full and productive.
Until Mama had a stroke in August 2020 in the middle of the pandemic, that left her paralyzed on her left side, so her garden was put in the sideline.
But you know what, she still insisted on visiting her garden, even though she couldn’t get out of the tricycle that brought her there. Just looking at her garden somehow made her smile.
Happy Mother’s day,Ma! We love you!
I’m sure you would all agree that as moms of special kids, they are also “special” in their own right.
Special and extraordinary.
Taking care of normal kids is itself challenging, how much more with special kids?
Not only double or triple hard and more challenging, and if the kid has some health problems as well, it adds to the burden.
But mind you, these moms, have all what it takes to be super moms and they all deserve luxury on Mother’s day, right?
From Pangga ta Ikaw, we wish Emerald, Diane, Lee, Mylene, and Mama Berling and all the special needs moms out there a joyful, blessed ” Happy Mother’s day! “
We truly appreciate what you do for your special kids and your whole family.
May your tribe increase!
How do you plan to celebrate Mother’s day this year with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Originally published: May 8, 2019 Updated: May 7, 2021