I have a pair of imaginary, hot pink boxing gloves that I carry in my purse.

They magically appeared the day my daughter, Mia, was prematurely born. 

That day, I did not even know that she would have special needs and health issues, and would need me more than ever to be her surrogate voice and advocate in life.

They are always ready to be used. 

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to retire them. 

I whip out my hot pink boxing gloves when the PICU is trying to transfer my little lady too early to the medical ward. 

I usually don’t even dare taking them off until a hospital stay is safely behind us. 

Once we’re home, the fight is not over yet. 

That’s why I then just tuck them symbolically under my pillow for the night—ready to take on the trials of the night looming before us.

The day the school bus arrived and wasn’t prepared to transport Mia in her paediatric wheelchair, I didn’t even need to put them on. 

Just patting my purse and knowing that I have them with me was enough to make me feel invincible. 

Then I proceeded to document with my smartphone how the driver was planning to transport her in a booster seat that did not support her hypotonic upper body and lack of head control.

There are other times when I realize that even though my trusty gloves can take anything on, some fights are not worth the effort. 

When I went back to work, I tried to enrol Mia in a private bilingual daycare. 

We are a bilingual household, so it seemed like the perfect fit. 

That was until the daycare administration informed me, that they did not accept special needs kids.

And their reasoning was everything but inclusive. 

At first I was ready to go to battle, as were my many friends and family. 

But then I realized, why would I want to subject Mia to a care environment, where she was not welcome. 

Just because I have the gloves, doesn’t mean I have to always use them.

After so many confrontations and sometimes downright altercations, with insurance, medical supply companies, daycare, school, therapists, hospitals, specialists, and even public transport, there are times when I come out fighting, but there is no fight. 

Always prepared for a negative answer, when things go our way without even an initial hesitation, I’m always a bit stunned—honestly, also a bit skeptical—where’s the fine print?

I know I’m not alone in fighting the daily battles that special needs moms and dads are confronted with.

I like to share these experiences—not because I’m complaining.

It is good to be open. 

It is good to share. 

There is always a new parent, who thinks that they are in this all alone. 

But the truth is, no matter what country you live in, no matter what kind of insurance and medical system you have, there are always obstacles. 

No system is perfect, and no parent should have to feel that they are alone in the day-to-day struggles.

If you are ever happen to be sitting across from us in the waiting room at the Children’s Hospital, and I smile at you, don’t worry, I’m not hitting on you. 

I may be smiling knowingly at you, as your child reminds me of my own. 

More likely than not, though, I’m just imagining what your secret weapon of choice may be, as I gaze down at the basket on our adaptive stroller, where my hot pink boxing gloves are stowed.

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