What I Never Imagined About Parenting My Special Needs 19-year-Old Princess

“Mommy, can I have my crown back now?”

I look up at my 5-foot, 9-inch, 19-year-old daughter, who is soaking wet from her shower, and with a bit of reluctance, I relinquish the tiny, very sparkly, crystal tiara that I got to wear for all of five minutes.

“Thank you mommy.”

Princess Lizzy is happy once again. Even though she can barely see because water is dripping down her face as she struggles against the towel I’m using to dry her hair.

“You’re dripping all over the floor. You know, I really don’t think princesses do this. I’m pretty sure they let their royal helpers dry them and help them get into their pajamas.”

I’m now soaked, and she is giggling — clearly enjoying my struggle and my laughter.

My daughter’s massive collection of tiaras and crowns, and her love of anything pink and sparkly, makes her happy. (Twenty20 @trendsandtolstoy )

This isn’t how I envisioned parenting a 19-year-old

This isn’t what I thought I would be doing as the 55-year-old mom of a teenage daughter. Not even close.

But then again, nobody told me I would be the mother of a princess.

That she also has significant special needs complicates her life and ours, but it’s her love and belief that she is a princess that defines her more than what she can’t do.

She has developed a love of heavy metal music, can slam a door, and tell me to stop bugging her as well as any other typical teen.

I’m not sure how many teenage girls call their mothers a mean queen. But then again, remembering my own teen years, I’m probably getting off easy.

We searched for a diagnosis for our daughter to no avail

My husband and I gave up the long, exhaustive, sometimes painful, search for a name for our daughter’s condition years ago. What matters now is helping her have the most meaningful life that’s possible for her.

The cocktail of medications that she takes twice a day have greatly reduced the behaviors that once made daily life almost impossible for all of us.

Her massive collection of tiaras and crowns, and her love of anything pink and sparkly, makes her happy. They help her deal with a world that’s not always easy for her to navigate.

As she has gotten older, I do my best to provide headbands and other hair accessories that are appealing enough for Lizzy and at the same time socially acceptable for a girl of 19 to wear. But sometimes it’s just not worth the fight.

A few weeks ago I let her wear one of her more elaborate crowns to her virtual psychiatrist appointment. I was prepared for the doctor to lecture me on the importance of giving her age appropriate attire. But the doctor smiled and told me that if this is what she truly wants, she sees no harm in it.

In fact she encourages us to use it. During the session, when Lizzy started to act up and fidget, her doctor asked if she thought the Duchess of York or Duchess of Sussex behaved that way. Lizzy said no and quickly settled down.

Our daughter is a a princess and we all accommodate her

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me is how willing our sons, who are now 22 and 15, have always been to accommodate their royal sister.

They compliment her many tiaras and outfits. Both have been willing to be turned into frogs more times then we or they can count if it means that they can connect with their sister for a few minutes.

Hearing the three of them laughing together is a joyous sound that has healed a lot of the pain that Lizzy’s issues have left us with. Our daughter’s fascination with being a princess has provided us a window into her complicated mind. It’s also allowed us to get to know an amazing young woman.

Plus, every now and then she does let me wear one of her tiaras.

More to Read:

Returning to Work With a Special Needs Child Just Isn’t The Same: Here’s What I Learned

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