To The Mom Whose Nest Will Never Be Empty

by Keli Gooch
Keeli Gooch hugging her daughter who is living with disability
Keli Gooch

Dear Fellow Mom,

I know your island feels completely deserted at times. All at once it’s back again — that all too familiar twinge.

Like a sharp prick.

Tiny, but strong enough to course through your entire body.

Dear Mama, I know you’ve seen the amazing TV shows, the battle to change the disability stigma, the war for inclusion… the victories won over the past few years for our children with different abilities.

Our kids are doing so much more than society every imagined, or some doctors could ever believe.

Except for you mama, your miracle has yet to come.

You watch like a stranger on the shore, while other children dive in the water and experience great feats.

Reality — like its fearless, have-no-filter relative named “Truth,” has belted you cold in the face with a bitter sting.

And the welt remains, like numb fingertips in blustery winter.

I know you feel like no one will understand.

The weight that you secretly carry — no one really knows how you bear it upon on your back.

That pressure to be a mother, wife, sister, aunt, caregiver, cook, cleaner, and walking Google.

Yet, even so, your brain tells you that you are never enough.

My fellow Mama, I’ve spent the last 8 months in silent grief and sadness.

This letter serves as your official note of confirmation — it’s okay to feel what you feel.

As a mother of a child with complex needs (which include autism and Down syndrome), the cliff of adulthood is terrifying.

And while you silently watch as other children receive college acceptance letters, new cars, fill out FASFA forms, make graduation plans, and prepare to leave the nest, you know deep down…

Your nest will never be empty.

Friend, I know you sometimes feel guilty, as if you could do more, but I bet that your friends would say that you are a SUPERMOM.

Girl… I am pleading with you to take the liberty to cry, scream, yell, and grieve.

Just be careful.

Don’t let bitterness cloud your view.

I can’t promise fairness, or even that things will be easier, but I can tell you that life will go on.

My friend, here’s permission to purposely pick up your rose-colored glasses.

To find the good and the beauty of this life.

I know your secret truth.

The fact that your nest is full for a lifetime is its own miracle.

Your child was never expected to live, or even have function.

But, I know that your child, or now adult, has exceeded expectations.

And so will you in life.

Hey Mama,

I challenge you to pick up your overcrowded garbage can and toss in that old thief called “comparison.”

Accept that your life won’t look like everyone else’s.

But that won’t mean it’s not beautiful.

One day at a time.

One victory, no matter how small, at a time.

In truth, a full nest means a lifetime of unbridled love.

I’m pretty sure there’s not much more you could ask for than that.


A Fellow Forever-Nester