Moms Share Ups and Downs of Special Needs Parenting

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In 2011, Bev Rozeboom found her role as a mother to a teenage son with special needs could be lonely and just plain difficult. So she wrote a Bible study and invited other mothers of special needs kids to work through the study with her. Rozeboom is a member of the Christian Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa.

When the study was over, the women wanted to keep meeting. They named themselves Moms of Special Treasures (MOST), and they meet one Monday a month at a nondenominational ministry center in Pella. The group includes almost 20 members ranging from 30 to 60 years old; about 10 moms attend each meeting. Between meetings, they stay connected on Facebook.

“I think what draws the moms to MOST all is that it’s safe,” said Rozeboom. “We can come as we are, knowing we don’t have to put on a front for this group. [It] is a safe place to open up about our fears for our children, discouragement over a child’s lack of progress, weariness over yet another hospitalization, how to handle the taunts and teases of other children. We can all relate to the stresses and strains we face in our marriages, the challenges of meeting the needs of our other kids, issues with extended families, our concerns for the future, and so forth.”

Tricia Van Zee is the mom of Davis, age 7, who has an unnamed seizure disorder. The group gave her a place to come out of denial, she said. “For me, the first time I attended MOST was part of my grief cycle, knowing that life with Davis was different than I had imagined it would be.”

The group has been a tremendous support for Van Zee: “I have been encouraged many times by my fellow MOST moms–sometimes via prayer, sometimes a meal when my life is overwhelming, and even with hospital deliveries when my special treasure was in the hospital. I give thanks for Bev, how she listened to and followed a beautiful calling to bring us together.”

“Prior to the group, I felt very much alone in my struggles with my adopted child and the feeling that I was a bad mom,” said group member Jill Roose. “I needed to come to the realization that God himself had confidence enough in me . . . and have peace with it and meet other moms who were experiencing the same thing.”

“At MOST we all understand that little things like meal-times and just going out in public with our kids can be very emotional because we never know what someone will say to us about our child or how they will look at us,” said Carrie Andringa, whose daughter Emma, 3, has Down syndrome. “It is also just different because of the amount of work [parenting] can take. It is so great to have a support group of moms encouraging each other. And we pray for each other and for our kids. We pray for our families. We know God has a plan for our kids, but we also know that day-to-day life can be such a struggle. So it is incredibly valuable to have Christian communities and groups that can support and encourage each other through hard times.”

“Some nights at MOST the stories are hard, and as I listen, I think to myself, how do they do it?” said Van Zee. “And then I realize they probably think the same thing when I share the peaks and valleys of my story since the last time we gathered. I leave affirmed every time.”

About the Author

Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who lives in the woods with her artist husband James and their five children in Hillsborough, North Carolina. They are members of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham.