Special needs fathers

This month at Special Needs Mama, Vicki Forman writes about her husband, Cliff, and the joy and purity of Cliff’s relationship with Evan.

And Rob Rummel-Hudson writes about special needs fathers at Schuyler’s Monster. His perspective includes a look at being a dad in what’s often a mom-filled special needs world.

Our family’s experience is both. In the beginning, when the twins were just home from the NICU, Tom was Avery’s mama. I say this with all due love and respect: Tom knew infant CPR, he knew how to manage the oxygen tanks and the canulas and the little black box that quietly measured each of Avery’s breaths, it’s green light a constant, continual reminder that we were not, yet, on steady ground.

Tom did other things, too: he figured out how to feed Avery so that Avery didn’t spit up; he had a method for calming Avery that involved whispering to him (I don’t know what he said, but it always worked) and in those early, hazy, messy months, Tom was the expert on all things Avery.

In time, Bennett had his surgery, Avery came off the monitor, life settled, and I was able to learn about my second son, because Tom taught me. And whether it was because it made the most sense, or because it fit each of our personalities, or maybe both, Tom began working more again, long hard hours, and I took over the care of the kids.

So now, Tom is Dad–the one who causes the children to light up simply by walking through the door. And I’m Mom, the one they turn to whenever someone needs a boo-boo kissed, or a fuss settled. I’m also the first to receive crayon drawings of circles and lines and letters, an “O” or an “I” or a “T”; the first to hear a new song; the first to get an unexpected hug.

I’m glad our kids have both mama-love and papa-love. They are different, but each is essential.

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10 thoughts on “Special needs fathers

  1. Kim, I love your comment. I too don’t think of myself as a “special needs mother.” I think the title “mother” pretty much encompasses all the things I do, in different ways, for all my children.

    I’ll have to check again, but I don’t think Rob refers to himself as a special needs dad (I think I did that, by inference, in my post, and it might be incorrect.) I’ve most often read him describe himself and others as “shepherds of the broken.”

  2. I think I struggle with the idea of being a special needs father, quite simply because I don’t define myself that way.

    I’m a father to 2 children and stepfather to 3. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that each child has their own special needs. In that respect my daughter’s DS makes her no different.

    Quite simply I’m a father who responds as best as he can to the individual needs of each child.

  3. Lovely post – I am a sucker for a gentle man. When Hannah was so sick it was her control freak papa who took over all her meds and when I was in an isolation room at hopsital with Kit (he had meningitis) Phil took Hannah home and gave her her heart meds and the milk I expressed each day and sent home to him. Even now if either of the twins are hurt they tend to want their Daddy. I can also totally relate to Tammy’s experience – I have never seen such pure overwhelming and unselfconscious JOY on my hubby’s face as when he saw Hannah being born.

  4. I will always remember when the Dr. handed Parker to Reed……even before he handed Parker to me. The look of total joy and love on Reed’s face made me fall in love with him all over again.

    Without Reed I would have found that really high cliff and jumped by now…….

    I am blessed. Truly.

  5. Well said.
    In our family, the roles are reversed somewhat. My husband is truly a “special needs dad” since he is the primary caregiver of our sons. He is truly wonderful.

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