Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Special Needs and The Nature of Love

“You know, not making a decision is making one. It’s a way out, because not choosing an option over another means that the decision is made for you,” my dad said. “That’s a decision in itself, and one that you may regret.”

“But I don’t know what to do!” I said, trying not to cry.

“It doesn’t matter,” he replied. “Just choose one. It’s okay to know that you were wrong, later. It’s okay to make an adjustment, after you know more.”

It was 1986, and I chose to go to California to a college that I couldn’t afford. I wanted to leave home. Wondering what my friends, and my parents would think about my choices back then was probably too great of an influence in my decisions. Worrying about regret was, as well.


“I’m going to get a tattoo,” I said. “Of what?” my friend asked. “I dunno,” I replied, knowing that it’d have to be really good to live on my skin for the rest of forever. Finally, I knew what I wanted. It took months of deliberation. I ended up with Chinese symbols on my left ankle. They read “To Die With No Regrets,” because living a life without regrets was my biggest influence back then. I knew that I wanted to live, although I wasn’t yet sure how to do so. And so I put it on my skin, as a reminder.

That my ex did as well is something I no longer regret.

He is no longer an influence in my decisions. He is no longer an influence in my life.


Before becoming pregnant, I dreamed about the little boy I’d have one day. I could see him, and pictured him standing next to a front door of our imagined home. Boots, umbrellas, tennis shoes and balls cluttered the entryway. He was excited, and wanted to go outside to play.  

He was blonde, loud, and happy.

I could hear his words “Hey, Mommy?” He must have been about three.

While our entryway looks similar to the way that it did in my daydreams, it’s only now that my son is six that he’s beginning to sound more  like the three year old I’d imagined.

He’s blond-ish, older than the boy I’d seen, and much taller, even taking into account his older age.

His words aren’t as clear as they were in my dreams, but they’re as pure. More pure, even.  

Having my son changed me, in all of the ways. He is my greatest influence.

That he has special needs is something that, at the age of 21, I didn’t think I’d appreciate.

I once had an argument with my friend Sara. “I wouldn’t even have a baby if I knew he’d be retarded,” I said. “I don’t think I’d love him and that’s just not fair to him.” I thought I had conviction. I thought that saying I’d not have a child with known difficulties was brave. Honest.

Now, I know that I was stupid, wrong, and full of crap. And that the R-Word is as well.  

Mothers love their babies (except for when they can’t, which is a different issue).

We see our children in ways that others may never see them. And, because of that,  we pray for a world changed. One more filled with empathy and wonder than the one we live in today. This is special needs, and the nature of love. 

WHAAAT-You gonna not love me


Almost asleep, his breath deepening by the minute, his hand relaxing into mine both more deeply and further away, my little boy turned and said “Mommy? You know there’s no such thing as alien dolphins, right?”

I smile, and reply, “I didn’t actually know that, buddy, but thank you for telling me.”

I close my eyes and think about his developing brain, and about his awesomeness. I think about having felt sad and sorry for him and for me, because he’s not typical.

And then, I snuggle closer in, decide to stay in the comfort of his dark room for a bit longer, and breathe. I breathe in forgiveness for my younger self, and realize there’s no way that she could have Known. I breathe in forgiveness for others, and know that my little boy is helping them to see.

I breathe out and hope that the biggest influence in my life right now will catch fire, and ignite. I breathe and think “We can do this. We can change the world. I can see the light and the magic.”

Tonight, even if only briefly, I hope that you can too. That tomorrow, we’ll each wake up and give a tired mama a smile. That we’ll pay it forward. That we’ll see the people beneath their colors, their masks, and their worries. That we’ll see. This life is needs, special needs and the nature of love.

Somebody with special needs changed my life for the better -


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather together around a writing prompt. This week is hosted by me (Kristi of Finding Ninee) and my lovely amazing co-host, Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks.

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  • Sandra - I think I’m first in these comments! First of all, beautiful and thought provoking as always. I’m glad you forgave younger you for saying the R word and making that statement. It’s not uncommon. And you are a strong loving mother who appreciated the gift of a child. If I wasn’t bound by a privacy thing, I could tell you a story that would make younger you just young, as opposed to downright violent, as I have witnessed.November 12, 2015 – 11:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You are first in these comments, Sandra! Thank you so much for your kind words and YIKES to the downright violent story. Hope you’re having a great Friday!November 13, 2015 – 5:19 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - I think you nailed it. Making memories which bring my son happiness and that will fortify him through life is what influences me most. I am also consumed with trying to teach him because I believe an active brain can heal itself.

    In my opinion all of these children are here to teach us humanity, empathy, unconditional love, and acceptance for them and ultimately and hopefully before we die for ourselves. Diversity is a strength even when you factor in the special needs population.

    And I must state my son brings me so much happiness and joy just by sharing how he sees the world with me. He has an awesome sense of humor! I tell him to everyday to navigate the world in silence takes genius and if he ever overcomes that the rest will be easy. He has had a pretty hard life thus far so he has strength.

    The little boy I dreamed of with light hair and emerald green eyes who hugged me when I got home from my fancy job and said, “I missed you and love you so much Mom. Come read me a book!” never materialized for me either. I grieved not having that child a bit but instead…

    I have beautiful Alex who hates hair so he has a GI haircut, loathed the Navy Seal Museum once he realized it was educational so he hoped in the closest chopper waiting to fly out. When that didn’t work he attempted to reprogram the museum electronic alarm so I took him out to run the SEAL obstacle course and he ran to the car! The wall was quite high to scale and I would not have made it up the ropes.

    My son has special needs but he is perfect because he is my son. Probably the greatest influence I and teacher in my life is my son too. Not the son I thought I’d have but the one who deals with adversity bravely everyday. Alex was right about the obstacle course. He’d have been fine but I’d have fallen and broken my leg. He has common sense.November 12, 2015 – 11:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Awesome comment JT. You’re so right – our kids do teach us all humanity and empathy and unconditional love. And, they’re amazing just as they are. Better than imagined, even. And wow, Alex was pretty insistent about getting out of that educational Seal Museum! LOL 🙂November 13, 2015 – 5:24 pmReplyCancel

      • JT Walters - LOL😂 Necessity is the Mother of invention especially when it comes to get out of Museum Education….Adapt, achieve & overcome! LMAO!

        My cute son was waiting by the car for when I broken my leg on the obstacle course. He didn’t want to be in the way of the ambulance. Typical teen thinking…”My Mother is an idiot but I still love her!”November 13, 2015 – 6:51 pmReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - Well I thought the same thing as a teen so who can blame him!! LOL 🙂November 13, 2015 – 8:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Pat B - What a beautiful and inspiring post! Looking back on our younger selves, though sometimes painful, is a good thing if there is something to learn from doing that. Sometimes it is just to learn to forgive ourselves.November 13, 2015 – 1:35 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much Pat! And you’re right – forgiving ourselves is so important.November 13, 2015 – 5:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Aw, love your thoughts here, but then again I always do. Oh and you are so right that I try very hard, as well to forgive my younger self for the way she once thought, as well as try oh so very hard to see the light and magic here as much as possible, as well.November 13, 2015 – 3:11 amReplyCancel

  • Samantha Harpur - Love this! Love your blog. Will email you soon!!November 13, 2015 – 6:43 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - But honestly, also, you were always going to change the world. Right? Because whilst having T might have been the catalyst, he *had* to have something to catalyse…all of that light and wonder and magic and deep grit must have been there in the first place, waiting to be unleashed. You change things. You spark, you incite, you ignite. You influence. And I think you were always going to.November 13, 2015 – 7:26 amReplyCancel

  • Robin - What a sweet post. We as adults so wish our we were oh-so-perfect in our teens/twenties. I so know that wasn’t the case. I had no idea! But got teary-eyed when I read this–never had this vision of what my son would be like but sometimes when I get frustrated w/him, it only last a few minutes because afterwards I hear him say “but mom, why would you want me to be like everyone else?”, “normal”, “average”, “typical”, “what’s so great about that?” and I know he’s right–he’s pretty awesome. Learning pace is different. Quirkiness is different. But different is pretty great too…because honestly, who aspires for ‘average”?November 13, 2015 – 8:18 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Robin,
      Thank you! I love “what’s so great about that?” from your son. And yeah, different can be pretty amazing indeed.November 13, 2015 – 5:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Aw, I love how you finished this week’s sentence! And, had I finished it too (I promise I’ll get back in the game one of these days!), I think my answer would have been similar..all three of my dudes have been huge influences on my life, but in completely different ways. Oh and btw, I love the meaning of your tattoo.:)November 13, 2015 – 8:39 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Emily!! No pressure or anything but you can still link up until Sunday at noon 😀
      Hope you have had a great Friday!November 13, 2015 – 5:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - We have the same influences:). And yes, please forgive your younger self. I forgive my younger self, poor thing just had no clue, you know?? Can’t stay mad at her. And I think she would be pretty in impressed with how she turned out – and by what influences her today. P.S. I’ve been sick all week and couldn’t get it together to write a real post. Did a favorites list instead. BlahNovember 13, 2015 – 9:12 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie,
      Yeah, young and dumb for sure and you’re right – we can’t stay mad at those poor girls. I’m so sorry that you’ve been sick all week!! I loved your favorite list!November 13, 2015 – 5:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - My kids are my biggest influences too, but I love what Lizzi said in her comment. You would still be the amazing woman you are even without Tucker’s influence, but he makes you even better. My kids make me better too, and I think that is motherhood’s greatest gift.November 13, 2015 – 11:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw that’s so so nice Dana! Thank you. You would still be amazing too. And yeah, kids making us better is pretty awesome for sure.November 13, 2015 – 5:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni - My younger self would have said something similar – actually, my younger self said that I wouldn’t marry and have kids because it would just burden me and I would hate it. I smile now at that. I’m sure you do too. And, you know that you are already changing lives, one mom of a special needs kid at a time!November 13, 2015 – 2:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Roshni,
      How funny that you said you’d never marry. Thank you for your sweet words!November 13, 2015 – 5:46 pmReplyCancel

  • April G - What a beautiful post. My angel child changed my life for the living ones and I don’t even know if they know. Hopefully, I’ll be joining you for the next one!November 13, 2015 – 6:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, April. I can imagine that your angel child puts so much of the day-to-day in perspective. I hope to see you for the next one too! (and, no pressure of course but this week’s is open until Sunday around noon if you’re feeling inspired)
      Hope you have a great weekend!November 13, 2015 – 6:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie Martinka Severson - “I breathe in forgiveness for my younger self.” That really resonated with me. I love how you incorporate all those small snippets and glimpses. They’re like little stars twinking in your memory, stream of consciousness, and it all just fits. You’re the real deal, and I love stopping by your blog. I need to do it more often.November 14, 2015 – 4:43 amReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - OH how I love your words, your heart, your purpose in sharing these beautiful perspectives on life and love and inspiration for us all to take a deeper look into what it’s truly all about. You always do that. I’m constantly trying forgive my younger self… oh that is so hard, isn’t it? I’m so glad we have both long since traveled far from who we were then. SO grateful for that.November 14, 2015 – 1:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - “You know there’s no such thing as alien dolphins, right?” He’s going to need to read “A Hitchkker’s Guide to the Galaxy” when he is older. 😉November 14, 2015 – 1:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Elizabeth! I will so have to have him read that when he’s older! I wonder where he heard about alien dolphins! Thanks so much and I hope you and your family are having a great weekend!November 14, 2015 – 5:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Angel Nichole - Well how does he KNOW there is no such things as alien dolphins? There totally could be!November 15, 2015 – 5:18 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Alien dolphins aren’t real???? I’m not positive about that, but I definitely choose to believe the biggest influencer in your life!November 15, 2015 – 8:36 pmReplyCancel

  • FlutistPride - I’m inviting you to participate in the Compare and Contrast Challenge.November 17, 2015 – 11:45 amReplyCancel

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