3 years ago

5 ways being a special needs mom has made me a better person [Guest Post by Kelly Mantoan!]

I have never had a guest blogger visit Svellerella before. Never. You would know, right?

A (long) while back, I asked a fellow blogger -whom I admire and fangirl hard over- to write me something special so I could have it on hand to post after Jude was born.

I think it’s safe to say that a new baby means kiss the desktop goodbye, and adios to blogging for a while.  So I’ve saved her post to pull out during a rough week, to share with everyone, and to remind myself why this is the good stuff of life.  Annoyingly, that rough week hasn’t really befallen me, and then I found myself overthinking about an appropriate time to publish. 

See, I asked Kelly to guest post for reasons more specific than why she’s cooler than I can ever be and how to obtain superb lip synching abilities.  Kelly is the mother of two special needs children.  I am a mother of a special needs child.  After Emmett was diagnosed with Autism, I was taken aback by some of the ridiculous things that have been said to Craig and I.  I wanted to write something snarky from my little soapbox here on the internet. In prayer, Kelly Mantoan of This Ain’t The Lyceum Blog floated to the forefront of my mind.  I asked her to encourage the Christian mother of special needs children and raise awareness about how special needs children make us better people than we could have ever imagined. Kelly and her husband have five children, two of them with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). Tenfold better, she writes than I. Kelly informed me that this month just so happens to be SMA Awareness month, and so it seems it’s time for this post to shine.   Thanks for coming to visit, Kelly! 


This Aint the lyceum

I’m blessed with a great day job; plus an evening job and overnight job for that matter. Even when the work is hard, dirty and unappreciated, I wouldn’t change my employer for anything. While my job description includes homeschooling, homemaking and child rearing, it is my work as a special needs mother that often consumes the bulk of my day.

It is not the job I had my eyes set on when I first started down the path of motherhood many years ago, but the promotion to special needs mom, while requiring the most demanding work I’ll ever do, has rewarded me richly in ways I never could have imaged. Here’s a peek at how I’ve grown;


#widn @rachelbalducci ? Smelling like bug spray after an evening in the yard. #iheartdeet

A photo posted by Kelly Mantoan (@kellymantoan) on

I’ve come to see there’s no such thing as a perfect child
, except in that every child is perfect just as they’ve been created. I’ve stopped judging children in terms of what they can’t do, and instead learned to see their abilities. Every child has things he or she can’t do. You can spend your time focused on the fact your child can’t talk, walk or see or enjoy their ability to create, think and love unconditionally. I learned my love is not limited by a diagnosis, and neither is my sons’.    



One more night. A photo posted by Kelly Mantoan (@kellymantoan) on

My family and I have become official ambassadors
for Spinal Muscular Atrophy and special needs parenting. It’s not title we asked to receive, but I’m determined that we’re going to own it. If we can do this, you can too. I’m never going to sugar coat it, but we’re going to put a face (or seven faces to be exact) on being open life and how to thrive when faced with a physical disability, that you can’t argue with. Gotta question? Ask. Are you facing a difficult diagnosis? We’re here to show you nothing is impossible with God.




Pretty much sums up this Monday. #ocnj A photo posted by Kelly Mantoan (@kellymantoan) on

I stopped believing I could control everything.
There’s still times I really try, but being a special needs mom forced me to let go and let God. It’s humbling to admit you don’t have complete control of a situation, especially a scary situation, but I’m discovering the peace that comes from turning away from fear and relying on faith.



I can do hard things.
I constantly give more than I think possible or reasonable. I have painfully sacrificed and not been overcome but found even more to give. Every road block I foresee is eventually crushed. I hate when people tell me, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. God’s constantly gives me more than I can handle, but thankfully, I’m not handling it alone. (See #3.) Shout out to my support team of prayer warriors, the always interceding communion of saints and of course, the Holy Trinity.



A photo posted by Kelly Mantoan (@kellymantoan) on

And because of #4 i’m not scared of anything anymore
(well, except that movie ‘The Ring’), at least not for long, because I’ve tackled the previously inconceivable. The perspective I’ve gained from being a special needs mom means something will have to be pretty danged serious for me bat an eyelash about it.

I am a stronger, more humble, sacrificial, and faith-filled person than I was before I started this journey. These have not always been easy lessons to learn, and many remain a work in progress, but I hope that by sharing them, those of you feeling overwhelmed in similar situations may find hope and those of you who never find yourself in my position may at least learn a bit from my experience.

A photo posted by Kelly Mantoan (@kellymantoan) on


  1. I loved this. I just found you via IG, and I read a lot of your posts about Emmett. I have a five year with autism, and I have a three year old with speech delay caused by a physical problem. I have three other kids too. I feel awfully alone sometimes and it so nice to find another Catholic mom who sees these precious children for what they are- blessings that perfect and challenge us.

  2. “I hate when people tell me, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. God’s constantly gives me more than I can handle, but thankfully, I’m not handling it alone.”

    Oh my gosh, yes. I’m not a special needs mother, but I am the mother of two babies in heaven. I could never handle loosing a baby on my own, much less two. During my second pregnancy I thought there was no way I could survive another loss, but we did, thanks to a whole lot of grace from God and a whole lot of prayers from those around us.

  3. I have tears in my eyes. Yes, yes, yes! This has been my experience too: in being dealt a motherhood hand that is far greater than I could have ever handled, I have become more of who God desired me to be in the first place. I am thankful. Broken, but thankful. So glad you shared, Kelly! Thanks for hosting her, Carolyn!

  4. Thanks for this post, both of you! I too have a son with autism, and I have found Kelly ‘s blog to be a source of great inspiration! So often I am tempted to turn away from everyone even God. I find myself screaming “just leave me alone!” In my head to every opportunity, tthankfully there are people like you lovely ladies, putting yourselves out there to call me put of myself, showing me that this is possible with God!


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