Silver linings...

Unexpected Blessings….

I would like to start my post today by apologizing to my readers. It’s been a fair while since I last posted but I have had so much on my plate, something had to give…. For a moment, that was my blog…  I’ve had so much happening. My oldest graduated from University so we have huge life changes there… He is now happily settled into life of an adult doing a job he absolutely loves in a city he adores! (Orlando) I am in the process of building a new home for my youngest son and I (details to follow!) and I have spent much time in court. My youngest son has Severe Cognitive Delays as well as Speech Apraxia and Autism. At almost 18, Cognitively he is 6-8 years. I was surprised to learn earlier this year that parents are not handed guardianship of our children we have spent 18 years caring for when they reach adulthood. There were attorneys fees, paperwork, and a hearing at our family court. I had home interviews and my son had to deal with perfect strangers talking to him about his life with Mama…. I have to say, everyone we dealt with: State inspectors, Attorneys, process servers ( yes, I had to physically serve my son papers) , to our judge were  some of the most helpful and kind people I have met.  The hearing went well and I have been awarded full guardianship of my son. It is a huge relief to me as a Mama-I want him to have the best life possible…

This week Boo turns 18! Even as I write this I feel my tears burning to fall…. they are a mixture of pain and happiness… Sadness for what will never be and joy for what will….

My pregnancy with Boo was  difficult. At 2 months gestation I had such complications that Dr’s told me I had lost the baby… But Boo is a fighter and he proved them wrong. I was put on bedrest with Placenta Previa. The rest of my pregnancy I was on bedrest or in the hospital. I was scared and frightened yet I also had a sweet 4 year old who also needed me and I needed him… My oldest son David and I spent many an afternoon curled up in my bed reading stories together and playing boardgames.

At 33 weeks I went into labor.  I was sent via a helicopter to deliver at Phoenix Childrens Hospital. I held my breath waiting for that cry and instead I heard the murmuring of a room full of strangers… He was whisked away from me to NICU and I was wheeled by at a distance to see him as they took me to recovery…

That first night they told us he would probably not make it and since we had registered as Catholics that we should have a priest come for our son… My heart shattered into a million pieces and I begged God with every fiber in my being to save my littlest son…

He made it through that first night and I just knew he would be coming home with us!  His suck reflex wasn’t developed so I pumped milk to feed him through a tube until it developed 2 months later. The nurses in NICU became our family and their love and devotion is forever seared upon my heart…

After much time, and along with a heart monitor and medications, we brought home Boo! My oldest son called his little brother “his baby” and adored helping with his new brother.

First day at home!

From the beginning we saw signs of something not being on task… He didn’t roll over till late. At one he wasn’t sitting on his own. He didn’t crawl and had no words. Before he turned one our life already became filled with words like OT (occupational Therapy), Speech therapy, and PT (physical therapy) . At 2 he had begun crawling but not walking. We went to dr after dr seeking answers…. We were given a walker for him by a physician who said he would not be able to walk on his own but this would enable him to get around… The day our PT delivered a teeny tiny walker for my child I felt myself breaking inside…

Yet…. Within months he was proving doctors wrong once again! He was not just walking… but RUNNING! Slowly, clumsily, yet…. running! He has been my miracle baby over and over…

** his newborn photo was take at one month

At 2 we were blessed to be assigned a new speech therapist who immediately taught us about sign language… Because his hearing was fine I never thought of this but she assured us this would open his world and it did!!! All of the sudden he was signing, “I want milk.” or “I want to play” My youngest son threw himself into learning the signs and it filled my heart to see him able to communicate with his little brother.

He was diagnosed just before his 3rd birthday with Autism and Severe Cognitive delay.

As the years went on words came but with his Speech Apraxia most of his speech is not understandable to those who don’t listen extra careful or know him well.  I am grateful though for every single thing he can do and how tirelessly our therapists work to help him improve constantly. This past year we were blessed to receive a Speech Device that allows him to type his words and then a computer reads them to whom he is speaking! This is a life changer for my son because it allows him much more independence and not just relying on Mama.

As we approach the milestone age of 18 I am filled with joy for where we are and how far we have come and yet to be honest, my mama’s heart aches for what will never be… he will never have a college experience like his brother, never drive a car, never vote… and yet… at the same time I am filled with joy for all of our moments these past 18 years, happy or hard. I want so much to encourage him to continue to grow and expand his abilities and to find his strength… As I look at my child as I am writing this he is happily building a fort with Lego’s for his Matchbox cars. He looks so content and filled with joy. I believe that I have been able to give him a good life and he is one of the most joyous people I have ever met… He always has a smile and a twinkle in his eyes!

My sweet Boo is blessed to have such a happy life… 🙂

The path our lives have taken were not at all what I envisioned the day I learned I was blessed with a second child, yet, the path we have traveled  has shown me such joy and love as a result…

My boys!

I became a single Mama when Boo was 6 and David was almost 11–I was crushed when my husband left us and I thought that would crumple us but we persevered and have found such happiness moving forward. We never know the reason for things but often those things bring us the most joy and love.

I can’t imagine life without Boo exactly the way he is… He is perfect the way God created him and I am grateful to be his Mama… Unexpected blessings are truly something to be grateful for…

Thank you so much for letting me share this part of my life and family with you… I am ever so grateful to all of my amazing readers and wish you and your families much love and happiness…

Love, Shell Maria

Happy 18th Birthday to my sweet boy!





  1. Sounds like you have been through quite a lot with your youngest son. Well, the doctors are not always right, are they? Hope he has a happy 18th birthday!

    1. Thank you Lori! 🙂

  2. Patricia Chamberlain

    Happy Birthday Boo! Thank you for sharing your very personal story. I think each child, no matter what their strengths and weaknesses are, is perfect in his or her own way!

    1. Thank you Patricia! All of our kiddos are special and unique! 🙂

  3. What a whirlwind of a time you’re having. Congratulations on your son’s graduation. Thank you so much for sharing your younger son’s story.

    1. Hi Nicole! Thanks so much! 🙂

  4. Awww.. so sweet. Happy birthday to the champ! I appreciate you sharing your life story and being brave to open up.

    1. Thank you Wendy… as I wrote, the words flowed but actually publishing it was such a hard thing to do…. I felt like it was such a part of myself…

  5. Boo looks like a happy boy. Congratulations on the guardianship hearing, and all the best to you and Boo in the future.

    1. Thank you Nancie! 🙂

  6. Kaitlan

    What an awesome post celebrating your son’s accomplishments. Proud of you both for your efforts!

    1. Thanks Kaitlan! 🙂

  7. As a first-time mom to a newborn baby boy, this post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! I love how much you have supported him as an amazing mother through the years!

    1. Aww thank you so much for your kindness Angela! Congratulations on your new little angel!!

  8. First of all, Happy Birthday to Boo and congratulations to David on college graduation! Thank you for sharing your story with everyone, it seems like he is a fighter for sure and you guys have an incredible bond. They are lucky to have such a dedicated Mama!

    1. Thank you so much Stephanie! 🙂

  9. I have to admit, I cried while reading this. You are amazing and strong, and I can’t even find the words to describe how incredible you are for raising him with such love and gratitude. He looks so happy in his pictures and I know it’s thanks to you! I’m sorry that his father left, I can’t even try to understand what this situation feels like. Thank you for being a role model. It’s so hard to read how the system is complicated but it’s encouraging how you’re describing the people who have helped you during the process. I wish you and your beautiful sons all the happiness.

    1. Narkis your kind words and thoughts warm my heart…. thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart I appreciate your kindness so much!

  10. This is such a heartwarming story! I am multiply-disabled myself (not cognitively delayed though) and go to a day center with people wih cognitive delays. It’s wonderufl to see everyday how they blossom. I a so glad your Boo is doing so well. Happy 18th birthday to him!

    1. Hi Astrid! Thank you so much for sharing with me and thank you for Boo’s birthday wishes! 🙂

  11. What a blessing and such a beautiful family you have! I had no idea about the guardianship challenges. Best of luck.

    1. Thanks Brittany! Everything went well with our hearing and now its already set and filed with the court… It goes into effect on his 18th birthday 🙂

  12. Congratulations to you and Boo. You are both so brave and awesome. Your story is inspiring and the hardships many but you have made it through with honours.

    1. Aww thanks so very much Rhonda! 🙂

  13. Kristy Bullard

    Wow, you guys have been through a lot! It’s so nice to see that you all are happy and healthy!

    1. Thank you Kristy! 🙂

  14. Kim

    Your sons seem well adjusted and I am happy everything i snow sorted with your younger son so you can continue to enjoy your lovely relationship as before.

    1. Thank you Kim! 🙂

  15. Indrani

    Happy birthday to Boo! He is a fighter!
    The guardianship challenges are unheard of in my country. Appreciate you shared your story.

    1. Thank you Indrani! 🙂

  16. Unexpected blessings are always best blessings. It seems that you’ve already gone through a lot of ‘problems’ with your child, but it must be also really rewarding seeing all this progress he made and how a wonderful boy he is. 🙂

    1. Thank you Natalia! It is rewarding to see how many blessings we truly have… 🙂

  17. Dannii

    Happy 18th birthday to your youngest son. It sounds like you have been through quite a lot with him.

    1. Thanks Dannii! 🙂

  18. Karla

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You’re a very strong person and they’re very lucky to have you as their mother. Happy 18th birthday Boo! I’m very happy Boo is doing very well. Wishing you all the best! <3

    1. Thank you for your kind words Karla! 🙂

  19. It seems it’s been a difficult, but rewarding road! Happy Birthday to Boo!

    1. Thanks so much Karla… It has not been an easy road, but it has led to many blessings… 🙂

  20. Anshika

    You have raised your boy with so much of love and gratitude! I’m so happy to hear his accomplishments! Happy birthday to him! Such a beautiful family! 🙂

    1. Thank you Anshika! 🙂

  21. What a beautiful story. Happy birthday to your sweet young man. You are blessed to have each other for sure!

    1. Thank you very much Holly! 🙂

  22. Happy Birthday Boo! It sounds like a very busy month for everyone, but congrats that it’s all over!

    1. Thank you Jessa! It was such a busy month! 🙂

  23. Wow what an inspirational and lovely story -sounds like it was very tough when your son was born but wow he is now 18! An adult! Sounds like you have done an amazing job as a parent.

    1. Thanks so much Rachel! 🙂

  24. Tonya Tardiff

    Wow what an incredible story! Happy Birthday to your son! You sound like one amazing Mama <3

    1. Thanks so much Tonya! 🙂

  25. Wow 18! What a huge milestone! Happy Birthday Boo. I wish you all the best on the journeys to come!

    1. Thanks Jessica! 🙂

  26. Congratulations to your son and to you! and thank you for sharing your family story with us it’s really inspiring, you’re such a great mom. More blessings to you and the whole family!

    1. Thank you Alexine! 🙂

  27. Becca Wilson

    Happy birthday to this sweet child! You are doing so amazing lady!

    1. Aww thanks so much Becca! 🙂

  28. Your family is beautiful and you are a strong mama. Congratulations to your son on his graduation and happy birthday to your youngest. 🙂

    1. Thanks Nailil! 🙂

  29. Happy Birthday Boo! What an ordeal to go through as your child becomes an adult who still needs your dedicated care. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Tara! 🙂

  30. I love hearing your son’s story and your positivity and perseverance through life’s ups and downs. Happy birthday to your son!

    1. Thanks Sarah! 🙂

  31. Its crazy that you have to go through so much for your son. I hope every goes well for you.

    1. Hi Luci! Thanks so much! 🙂

  32. Happy birthday Boo! You both are so lucky to have each other. Unconditional love 🙂

  33. Wishing a very happy birthday! What a beautiful family you have! So lucky!

    1. Thank you Kathleen! 🙂

  34. Belated Happy birthday boo! Hun even my tears came out while reading it. I read it thrice. You have been through a lot. I am out of words. All I can say is take care.

    1. Aww thank you so very much Monidipa! I am so grateful for wonderful readers such as you! Have a blessed week!

  35. Elizabeth O

    It sounds like you have been through a lot but you are strong and a lovely family. Many happy returns to your biggest baby!

    1. Thanks so much Elizabeth! 🙂

  36. You are so strong to be supporting your family! I believe you will find someone who is able to care for you in the near future. I’m so glad you are happy with your 2 kids right now and stay happy!

    Please continue sharing your updates with your readers and you never know who you might be helping out there!

    1. Hi Tiffany! I truly believe that there is a reason for everything that happens and I look at the ups and downs of life as this amazing beautiful journey we’ve been given a chance to explore… 🙂

  37. I can’t seem to find the right words to tell you all my admiration for you and your son. You are extraordinary both of you. Boo smile is the proof you’ve been the best mom! And you continue to be. I’m glad you got the guardianship, but it couldn’t be otherwise. You’ve done what every parent dreams of, making happy children.

    1. Nati…. your kind words are such a blessing to me and I appreciate so much your kind thoughts…

  38. Awww, happy 18th birthday to Boo! I love all the personal photos you included in this post!

    1. Thank you Corinne! I had so much fun looking back thru our old photo albums! 🙂

  39. Aaaw!Happy Boo! You have surely gone through a lot I must admit but I admire how you appreciate every single one of those moments, be them bad or good. No wonder God grants you more unexpected blessings even as you continue.

    1. Dalene thank you so very much for your kindness! 🙂

  40. Oh my! I really hope everything goes well! I wish you and your family the best of luck. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Thanks Lavanda! Everything has turned out well 🙂

  41. Happy belated birthday to your wonderful bundle of blessing. Congratulations to David, getting a dream job in a dream city is no mean feat. Thank you for Sharing your story with us, it serves as a source of strength, inspiration and a reminder to count our blessings.

    1. Thank you Samuel!

  42. You have a beautiful family. A Very Happy Birthday to the champ, he is blessed to have you as his mother. Thank you for sharing a part of your life here!

    1. Thank you so much for your kindness Preet!! 🙂

  43. Wah. you rock girl.. despite the circumstances you didn’t give up and raising children on your own. Hats off to you. Keep writing, I wish you all the best from another side of the world

    1. Thanks so much Anna!!! 🙂

  44. What an amazing story! I had tears in my eyes the whole time I read it. As a new mama I can appreciate how hard it would be to see your baby struggle to reach milestones, especially communication. I had the biggest smile when I read about your son learning sign language and flourish as he was able to get across his needs and wants! This is spectacular! I can’t understand what you may be going through as we all have much different situations in life, but I can appreciate how hard you work as a mama to make sure your children live the best live’s that they are able to, and are given the tools and resources to do so!

    Kudos to you strong mama.


    1. Julianne thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts!! 🙂

  45. I can’t tell you how much I admire you right now! To go through such heartbreak and then be left to be a single mom is beyond my comprehension. Your kids are very lucky to call you mom! Happy Bday to your sweet boy!

    1. Oh my goodness thank you so much Akamatra! 🙂

  46. Congratulations on your oldest graduating. What a world we live in that you had to jump through hoops to continue looking after your kid. I must say he looks extremely happy, you are doing a superb job!

    1. Thanks so much Azlin! 🙂

  47. First of all, many congratulations on the guardianship! And a very Happy 18th Birthday to Boo. Thanks for sharing your personal story and Boo must me so proud to have you as his mother!

    1. Thank you Ana! 🙂

  48. Chastity

    Thanks for sharing your incredible story about your life and son. It’s a challenge but some how you have made it through. I can’t even imagine raising sons especially one with a disability alone with a partner. You are the strength they need as well as a inspiration for women to pull through.

    1. Aww thanks so much Chastity! I think we are never given more than we can handle and am so grateful for our blessings… 🙂

  49. Such beautiful thoughts. He is definitely perfectly created the way God wanted him to be. And you couldn’t hope for anything else, or anything better. I love it.

    1. Thanks so much David! 🙂

  50. Such a beautiful post and seems like you have gone through so much. But I love how you see it as a blessing in disguise. Everyone is special and we need to see that. Again beautiful post

    1. Thank you so much Surekha! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked*