Rachana Prasad is a mother to two children, one being a special child. She also runs a theater group for children – Chiranthana. It is ironical that our society is harsh on parents when it comes to the way they raise their children. They are perhaps even harsher when it comes to parents who are raising one or more kids with special needs.
Rachana shares her parenting journey with Mums and Stories.
Parenting is no easy job, that too when you have a child with special needs. It is extra hard for plenty of reasons, but trust me; it’s extremely rewarding.
When you wonder where the rewards are, I would say, just dive deep down into your heart and the answers will be right there for you to see and feel.
My daughter was born after six years of my marriage. My cute little bundle of joy with pink lips and curly hair looked like a fairy princess, straight out of wonderland. Our joy knew no bounds. With every delight comes the dismay, I guess!
Very soon, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder affecting her overall developmental milestones. My child was only eight months old then…. Did all hell break loose?
I must say, the entire universe fell apart for us ….
It sort of leaves you devastated, traumatised, shattered and shocked. My everyday commute to doctors and therapists had become a norm. What was worse was that I had the entire world nonchalantly giving out parenting tips, religious and astrological guidance and slyly thriving on my weak spots, sort of deriving sadistic pleasures.
It is important to mention that I also found a few precious gems in the process and today, they are the ones integral to my life.
I had to let go of my cushy job, was left with a daughter who needed plenty of help, suddenly felt lonely and life had stopped looking bright and gay. But, didn’t someone say: Make lemonades when life gives you lemons?
Yes, the lemon here was the ample opportunities awaiting me…. Luckily, nothing can pin me down for too long as a person, and very soon it dawned upon me that it was a calling. I realised that I had to do it… because if it wasn’t for me, who else would?
Empowering oneself to handle challenges is very important. I wondered how I could make a difference as I knew only two things; I had specialised in training skills and had theatre in my blood. I gave it a shot. I started Chiranthana, a yummy lemonade! An exclusive life-skills programme designed for children, with art as an intervention.
Chiranthana started in a small garage with just eight kids (my daughter being one among them), catering to skills beyond academics.
Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr
Classes were fun and enriching, and before I realised it, eight became 80, 80 became 800, and very soon we were everywhere.
My daughter continues to be an integral part of all my workshops. Today, she enjoys being on stage, can perform dance/drama for at least ten minutes and has picked up a lot of skills through theatre. A diploma in Inclusive Education was another add-on that gave more structure and strength to my training modules.
Play therapy and Art therapy work best with children. There is a sense of belonging and confidence-building that happens, and it is heartening to see children reaping the benefits of this.
Today, we are a registered NGO under the Trust working with children and youth. Our USP has been theatre arts and an inclusive set-up.
Art Courtyard is another initiative of Chiranthana. It’s been ten long years, and I have traveled a very long way.
So, has it been easy all the way?
Not at all…It’s not easy to look elegant and poised all the time, without burning yourself out. A mother has to play the role of a ‘Super Hero’ and believe in her child more than anyone else. I continue to celebrate every milestone of hers and enjoy just being with her. We act silly, play pranks on each other, snuggle along, and ensure a constant circus runs at home.
I still believe in miracles, but also equip myself every other day to the harsh realities of life.
Insecurities like ‘What after us?’ haunt us as a family. But I know I am not alone… There are thousands of other parents and children walking our path and fighting similar battles. I feel a lot more reassured today with emerging inclusive set-ups and awareness among people.
I am sure God has his plans. Even If I hear nothing, I feel at pace, knowing that he hears me!
My daughter gave me a career, showed me how to smile despite all odds, gave me a life worth living and made me fearless about having another baby. There were times I felt I could have done better with my girl and have come under extreme guilt pangs whenever I prioritised myself over my children. Yes, I also have a six-year-old boy.
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I have now learned to realise how important it is to be happy myself, because only a happy mother can raise happy children. So, I indulge in my whims and fancies too…
I may not always prepare the best of snacks for them. I may not perfectly dress them up all the time or micro-manage them by being a hyper parent. I put all that at rest, because I know I am busy fighting greater life battles.
My daughter turned 13 a month ago, and today, she is a happy, empathetic adolescent with an infectious smile and an undying zest for life.
My only prayer to God is to spare my daughter from the ugliness of this life, and instead ‘Try me Out’.
She still needs a lot of help with studies, self-help, physio, grooming, and speech among many other things, but what is life without challenges? I am happy I found the concoction for my lemonade, without losing MYSELF in the process. Life just goes on.
Mums and Stories admires the spirit of mums like Rachana who refuse to give up. We wish Rachana and her family a great future ahead. If you know an inspiring mum or believe you are one, do reach out to us and tell us your story.
This article was originally published by Mums and Stories
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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