The truth is, as a parent of a child with special needs, we are all in the same boat. We no longer have time. Time is so very precious. We cut out the chaff, and get to the heart of every matter if we can.
Things in life, changes and moments previously earth shattering, now seem insignificant to a father who has watched his son recover from open heart surgery, or a mother who has had her child turn blue in her arms waiting for an ambulance.
There is an old quote- 'People are the most open to change in a crisis'.
I haven't found new skills. They were always there, and I wrote in private. I blog anonymously, I wrote draft articles and stories and deleted them, and I felt awkward considering making any part of my private life public. But I now utilize resources and work on things I previously would not have dreamed of doing, because I am not afraid to do so any more. There is more at stake than my precious ego, or an uncomfortable interaction or comment. The way my son is perceived by his world, will be the most important thing in his life; because it will help form and shape his own opinions of himself, when I am no longer here daily to be his inner voice.
That quote rings extremely true for me- and when you start living your life in a series of small battles, wars, victories, breakdowns, and living inside a maelstrom of emotions previously only reserved for births, weddings and the odd occasion at home, those pivotal moments when you appreciate how lucky and blessed you are- are no longer pivotal. They are a daily occurrence and, as a parent of a child with additional needs, we are given a heightened ability to reflect on that in these mini 'war zones' we can so regularly be exposed to.
So, when a parent says to you, 'this child is the best thing that ever happened to me', don't doubt them. Don't try and break down reasons for it. Just know it is the truth, and even if they never verbalize their reasons to you, or themselves, it will remain a fact. This is living. Creating an opportunity to be a more empathetic, understanding and driven version of myself would not have been possible in this way without my son.
There is no 'normal' any more.
And there is no part of my life I was more grateful to give up.