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One Mom's Perspective: "How Do You Do It?"

Updated: May 2, 2019

By: Dr. Nickole Cottrill

“How do you deal with everything? I just don’t know how you do it. I know I couldn’t do what you do every single day.”

I have heard these questions and comments a lot during the last 9 years, more so in the last two years since Jayden’s behavior has intensified. I may not always say it, but the response in my head is always the same, if you had to, you would do it. We all want the absolute best for our children. We try to send them to the best schools, instill good values and morals into them from a young age, and make sure they get all the vegetables they need. We plan for college and what they are going to do with their lives. We would give our last breath for our children without hesitation or question. If we had to make a split-second decision to save our own lives or those of our children, we would be dead before the second was over, or at least I would be.

In essence, it is the same with Jayden. Of course, it is slightly different because I, we, deal with things that are not a part of a typical child’s life, but I still do what I need to do to make sure he has the absolute best life he can. Is it hard? Hard isn’t the damn word for it somedays lol. However, at the end of each day, I want to know that I did the best for him that day. Do I fall short of that sometimes? Of course, no one is perfect. There is no manual for parenting and there damn sure is no guide at all to parenting a child with special needs. So, I just do my best and hope that it is good enough. I have also learned to take things as they come.

I think that is the key to being Jayden’s parent or any parent for that matter. Learning how to go with the flow and not stress over all the unimportant things that happen each day is the key to keeping your sanity! Yogurt threw across the floor, broken tv’s and iPads, blown out car tires, missed phone calls, not being able to have a social life, the dishes not getting done for the third day in a row (who am I kidding, it’s more like the third week in a row), bite marks and scratches on my arms, cracked cell phone screens, water thrown all over the tv, I could go on about things that have happened in this house and I am sure yours too, but none of this is important. It really isn’t. Clean it up, buy a new tire, and eventually, do those dishes. I will not waste my time getting mad or upset over little things like this. Why? Because I have witnessed death too many times, I have witnessed my son being near death more times than any parent should. I have heard the sadness in numerous doctor’s voices as they sit down to tell me my son is not likely going to live. I have studied their body language enough to know when that conversation is about to happen. When those doctors are going to speak the words that I never want to hear again, but unfortunately have over the last 9 years. Those are the times to be upset, sad, mad, and broken over, not spilled milk on the kitchen floor or black permanent marker all over my carpet. (yes, everything I have mentioned so far has happened and so much more).

People always think I am nuts for laughing about the small stuff, but laughing about yogurt dripping down my tv or wall is funny! Laughing because he actually made straight lines (we were working on lines at the time) on my carpet with that permanent marker is funny. It’s funny because Jayden is here to do it and it seriously only takes 10 minutes to clean up (okay the marker took longer, but still lol), and chances are, the tv needed to be cleaned anyway due to the dust that was collecting (see what I did here, you turn a negative into a positive!). My point of all of this is, I get through life, I deal with the craziness in this house with my sanity intact because I have learned to just take things as they come. Go with the flow and save my sadness, anger, worry, and fear for those times that are actually important and life-changing, like when I can see the doctor is about to pull up a chair. If what you are about to be upset over isn’t something that is going to change your life, make an impact in a major way, or ruin your life or someone that you love, then why waste your time acting like it is? It is pointless.

I won’t do it (again, I am not perfect. I am not saying I never get upset, but you get my point). I won’t because no matter what that wild child breaks or destroys, he is here to do it and that is all that I care about! He is here to throw his balls and break my picture frames right off the walls (so many are taped back together in this house), he is here to dump my 44oz fountain drink all over my kitchen floor and smear it around like he is finger painting, and he is here to stain every single freaking piece of fabric in this house, and that is all perfectly fine by me! It is more than fine. It is amazing that he can do a lot of those things considering the doctors said he would never be able to! It is amazing because two years ago they brought the chaplain into us at the hospital because they knew Jayden was only leaving the hospital in a body bag to the funeral home, not in the car with us, but they were wrong each time. Each time that wild and crazy child fought for his life, and he won. He has fought more battles than anyone I have ever personally met, and because of that, I think that he deserves to throw water balloons in the house if he wants to! And that, my friends, is “how I do it.”

Follow Nickole and Jayden's journey at

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