Book Review: THE OTHER SIDE OF SPECIAL by Brown, Clime, and Holt

THE OTHER SIDE OF SPECIAL: Navigating the Messy, Emotional, Joy-Filled Life of a Special Needs Mom

By: Amy J. Brown, Sara Clime, and Carrie M. Holt

This may not be a typical book that I would review here because it is NOT about TCKs. (But don’t stop reading. Read the next few sentences before you decide this book isn’t for you or someone you know.)

But it is on another topic that you know is near and dear to my heart. Plus, you may know someone in your life or community that needs this book. So, here’s my review. 

The title is a little misleading as it says it for the “Special Needs Mom”. It’s not really just for them, I would include the dads, the grandparents, the older siblings and then anyone that works or cares for families that fit this description.  

The chapter titles are simply the best. Here’s a little snippet:  

  • Loneliness to Connection 
  • Grief to Hope 
  • Guilt to Acceptance 
  • Weariness to Rest 
  • Fear to Trust 
  • Disappointment to Gratitude 

Aren’t they just great titles? The other ones are just as great, too. The authors tell you in the intro that you do not have to read the book in a specific order. In fact, if you are feeling guilty, then just read that chapter. Each chapter is fairly short, so it really doesn’t take up that much time either. 

It is a Christian book, but it is not preachy. In fact, it feels like you are sitting with the three authors having a cup of coffee while they tell you that they understand what you are feeling. They share their own stories of how they felt guilty and came to a place of acceptance (or whatever the chapter is on).  

Living overseas with families like mine is hard. For one, there are not that many, so the road can be lonely. Though people care, few understand how hard it really can be. I’m not saying that all days are hard – unless it’s just a season of hard and then it can be days of hard. What I am saying is that this book feels like a friend. The authors have put words to the aches and joys I have felt over the past several years. 

And while that is all good, I think the most helpful part of the book is that at the end of every chapter they have given space to process. There are 3-5 questions that make you slow down. To stop and mentally take in what you read and apply it to your own life.

Taking time to Reflect

PC: mdmaurer

Reflecting takes time. And honestly, most of us don’t have the time to spare to spend it on such a “luxury”. It’s amazing how needy those little humans can be. If you have them in your home, trust me, they do grow and become somewhat less needy.

Unless they are a child with special needs.

Then, I can’t promise anything.

My daughter will be turning 17 next month and still requires most of my attention when she is at home.

In writing the first two sentences until this point I’ve stepped away from the keyboard several times.

  • Started some music for her to listen to in her room.
  • Put her hair in a bun.
  • Took her to the bathroom.
  • Changed music.
  • Answered the phone and door.
  • Put her hair in a ponytail.
  • Cleaned up the water she spilled.
  • Changed music again.

Reflecting in my journal is something that I need to do regularly for my mental health. But, as you can probably tell, I can’t do that with her home. Or at least awake. Years ago I began waking up at 4:45 am because she got up around 6 – no matter what time she was put bed. I needed my cup of coffee in S.I.L.E.N.C.E. with my journal, pen, and Bible. I was NOT a morning person, so this wasn’t easy to implement. These days she sleeps in until sometimes 7, so I’ve been working in some time to exercise – can’t say I’m as consistent as I am with drinking my coffee and writing in my journal, but I’m trying. (really, I am.)

With her graduating from middle school and getting to be home almost three weeks earlier than the rest of the school, I have reflected on how these weeks have gone and began thinking about her future – like when she graduates from high school.

I had a panic attack.

Would my life resemble these past few weeks with her home with me?

Would I have to totally give up ALL of my hopes and desires to be a writer, my projects that I’ve started on around the house, and stop any kind of normal social life or work that revolves outside the home?

Do I really only have three more years of freedom?

This week the theme at Velvet Ashes is on reflecting. And they are using the verse from 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.” (NLT).

I was seeing lots of trouble. My focus was very limited and definitely not on the eternal.

But, honestly how do you change your focus from the here and now to the eternal?

Reflecting on the faithfulness of God in the past.

So that is what I did.

  • He provided schools when I didn’t think there would be one.
  • He provided therapists.
  • He provided hospitals, doctors, and countless people around the world to help with all medical needs.
  • He provided friends who are WILLING and ABLE to help out.

If He could take care of all those needs in the past, He is able to take care of her future (and mine). Taking time to reflect and remember, led to peace and acceptance (or at least the beginning) of what this summer will look like. And for that matter, what her future will look like. I still don’t know, but I can trust the One who does.

While finishing this post, she got outside.

PC: mdmaurer

So, I laughed, snapped a photo, and I brought my computer outside.

Win. Win.

Do you take time to reflect? When do you find time to do that? What have you reflected on this summer?

This post is part of The Grove with Velvet Ashes link-up on #velvetashesreflecting.