Anita’s Story: Believe in Miracles
Today I am proudly presenting you amazing Anita Causevic (42) from Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is a true inspiration and motivation. Prepare to meet an amazing woman and to fall in love with her. She is the mother of twins Faruk and Alem.
During the years, she became an advocate for the special community and fearless activist who speaks about the importance of including all special children in the society after their education. Anita was my first client two years ago, and today she is my friend.
I brought her to my blog because every special parent needs to hear her story (and take notes😊).
I invite you to enjoy reading about her beginning, the period of acceptance, and her hobbies and activities.
Maya: Hi Anita. I am so happy to talk to you. Tell us more about your personal story and your family.
Anita: Hi Maya, the pleasure is mine. I follow your work, and everything you do and create is in alignment with my personal values.
My story starts long ago, 19 years ago, when my twin boys were born. Like every parent, my husband and I joyfully expected our babies to come to the world. We knew that we will move from two to four-member family. I have to say that although we were young, I feared not that it’s going to be two babies at once. I guess it was the influence of my youth and lack of experience😊.
Expecting twins was a real surprise. I guess you can plan and plan your future, but it is not much you can control really. In the same sense, we never thought we could have a child with physical and mental challenges.
But that is exactly what happened. We’ve thought we will paint our family with certain colors, but instead, we had to use completely different ones – colors that are just ours. And colors that will show our way in the dark. After our sons Faruk and Alem were born, we’ve found out that Faruk has cerebral paralysis.
Maya: What was the most challenging period in your life?
Anita: The most difficult chapter of our story was when Faruk expressed aggression and nervousness. As he started to grow from a baby to a toddler, I handled his development and rehabilitation pretty well. But since his age of 8, some aggression developed in him that stopped his progress and have put all of us (at home) in a “stop-mode”.
Until then, all the therapy work (physical, motoric and logic exercises) gave great results. But at some point, his lack of ability to verbally express himself created frustration for Faruk. That was the biggest reason why his aggression increased during these challenging years.
When I look back then, from today’s perspective, I can honestly say that in that period, the rest of us at home were like robots. We couldn’t function normally because Faruk’s aggression took over our lives.
This was hard as well for his brother Alem too, who was a child with typical development.
As I said before, the colors we choose to paint our lives showed us the way in the dark because that period really was dark. I think that every parent who is going through a similar challenge knows what I am talking about.
Maya: I am sure about that. When did you accept your situation? What was the point when you decided that being a special parent is not the thing that defines you?
Anita: Maybe it will sound strange, but I accepted our situation very soon after our sons were born.
My husband and I believed the doctors when they told us something was wrong. You know, our sons are twins, and Alem has typical development. We could see the difference from the start. We were aware of how Alem is overcoming each milestone, and Faruk doesn’t. And we knew that Faruk’s way through childhood to an adult will be harder, only we couldn’t completely predict how difficult it will be.
Besides the epilepsy seizures, Faruk has disturbed psychomotor development and elements of autism. It’s a diagnose with no precise determent symptoms. It’s actually a pretty individual condition, and one can only guess how severe brain damage is.
We never felt pity for him or for ourselves, and this fact brought me to this perspective I have today, that our challenge is here for a reason. I never let this challenge define me and put my life on hold.
And Love is one of the highest values that runs in our family.
When I was younger, I had the need to live the life I once planed for myself – to have a career and have a “normal” life. But I soon realized that the country we live in doesn’t support families with children with disabilities.
We decided that we will not move to another country, but I will stay at home with Faruk. I committed and worked with him and gave him a chance for him to reach his full potential. This potential turned out to be huge.
I have to say that the decision – to stay home and work with my child was defining me at the beginning. But what’s important is – it didn’t STOP me. I accepted that this is my JOB, and my life got a different purpose.
Maya: This is a wonderful point of view. Do you feel that being a mentally and physically challenged person is a taboo topic in our society?
Anita: In our society, many topics are still taboo. Having a special child in the Balkan causes sense of pity for many people. However, I feel that this is changing for the better. I understand that all the current beliefs about some disability or difference cannot be changed overnight.
It’s a step-by-step process where more and more people see that physical or mental challenge doesn’t represent some God’s punishment, but an opportunity to live open-minded and open for other possibilities – like coloring your life with the wildest colors, once you achieve acceptance.
We, as parents, have to be the example. How we see and act regarding our challenge is the biggest lesson for the other people who are watching us.
If I see my child as unique as someone who has to give a lot to this world, others will see him that way too.
For the people who cannot see this, I don’t even bother to think or waste my energy.
Maya: How was Faruk while growing up, and how is he doing now?
Anita: Faruk grew up in an environment full of Love and joy. I often say that if he didn’t have the challenges he has – he would have a career as an entertainer😊. Since a young age, he appreciates humor and music. When I realized that his memory is getting stronger with music and songs – the music always became present in our home.
The communication with his brother Alem got stronger while growing up exactly through humor, singing and enjoying music. I managed to go through the most challenging time of his aggression just because of his joyful nature, which was more expressed in the days when he felt better. I was forgetting all the pain and difficulty and was focusing on his current joy and laughing.
Today he is 19 years old, and his second name is Love. I can’t describe to you the amount of joy he brings into our lives. There are days when he is quiet, and I can see he is not in his best mood. Then I leave him alone. I let him go through his process and the changes that come with puberty.
He can’t explain what he feels, but I feel his energy and leave him alone. After all these years we know each other very well. We understand each other, although we do not communicate verbally.
Maya: You are amazing. How did you balance being a mother to a typically developing child and special child?
Anita: To be a parent of a special child and a typical child at the same time is very challenging. I have a lot to say on this subject. I guess what “saved” me along the way is that I didn’t think of it so much while raising them. Maybe it was because of the youth, and maybe because of the special wisdom God gives you along with the challenge. I don’t know. I just know that Love and hugs have never been missed in our family. Besides the fact that I was very young, I organized everything pretty well. My husband was working while I stayed with them in our colorful and joyful world. I created that atmosphere and that attitude in our home.
I was completely here for them. We would draw, sing and dance. That’s how we’ve spent our days. I gave Alem great attention as well.
Faruk’s emotional intelligence wasn’t developed properly, and we were working on that. But as a mother, I had an instinct that Alem shouldn’t be leftover aside while all of the work I had to do with Faruk. Alem was my sunshine that guided me all these years.
He was my “safe place” and helped me a lot to get Faruk out of the silence and the dark.
All of our Love and energy present in our home helped Faruk to overcome the aggression. We’ve brought back the smile to his face.
I have to say that my husband and I had constant help from our parents and friends. With that help, I managed to do whatever it takes to create the balance to be a mother to both of my sons.
I am sometimes wondering how everything we’ve been through with Faruk affected Alem? My inner voice says that every man goes through a challenge while growing up that lives a mark. If that is the case, I am sure that it made Alem a man who is walking fully consciously through life.
Maya: I am sure about this as well. After all, the results speaking for themselves and both of your sons Faruk and Alem are amazing. What is Faruk’s daily routine? And what is yours?
Anita: Faruk doesn’t watch TV, doesn’t use a computer, and doesn’t read. It’s very challenging to create a daily routine for someone like that.
As a parent, I’ve never let some obstacle stop me. I would always search for alternatives and solutions – how to make his life happier?
When I managed to put Faruk’s weight under control – which he gained in his aggression period, I decided to engage him with the sport. We’ve tried team sports, but I saw that no one can devote to him as well as me. Faruk needs individual work. I know a fitness coach who gives personal training. I asked her to take us on her team. She was glad to do that, so Faruk went two times a week to train. The coach was showing us exercises, and then I worked with him. Faruk wouldn’t be cooperative as much with other people. We never gave up; we continued to exercise and get results.
Each day I try to find ways for him to have meaningful moments. We are going for a walk – sometimes 15 km long. We travel, go to restaurants or to the movies. I decided a long time ago – if he can’t achieve to be an academic, I will teach him to love life and become a hedonist😊.
Maya: I love that, and I think it’s a great philosophy😊. What kept you positive over the years? How did you maintain your mindset?
Anita: I was always an optimist and was looking on the bride side of life. That attitude helped me go through this challenge. I’ve never lost my joy. I think it’s very important to keep the joy in us despite all the hardships and difficulties.
On some ugly days, I keep my strength by remembering how wonderful and happy Faruk is all the other days. I keep my focus not on the ugliness but on the all good that we have, and that brings us more hope.
And also, Alem helped me to maintain my positive attitude a lot. By the time Faruk learned to share emotions, Alem had given me strength with his hugs and talks. That is a big reason why there wasn’t sadness and suffering in our home. I followed Alem’s colorful child’s pieces of advice and surrendered to their world while growing up.
Maybe it sounds strange, but it’s true. I haven’t allowed “grownups questions” to occupy my mind, like “Why this happened to us?” I was in their child’s world where we’ve found each other. In that child’s world full of joy, my son Faruk felt and recognized Love.
Maya: You are so inspiring and amazing. Listening to you, I feel like I want to pause after each of your answers and let it sink in.
Anita: (laughs modestly) Thank you.
Maya: What is your favorite thing to do – not related to parenting? Do you have hobbies? If you like, you can tell us more about your two Instagram profiles and your blog.
Anita: I’ve been a mom most of my life. It’s the most important role for me. Still, I had a life before I was a parent, and I enjoyed hobbies that fulfilled me. A long ago I was very successful in the sport. I trained in handball for 12 years. I was a goalkeeper. The war prevented me from getting into the professional team. But everything happens for a reason.
Practicing a sport is in my blood, and whenever I feel down or notice negative thoughts, I always come back to exercising. In the most challenging period with Faruk, I started to train at home. I couldn’t do that anywhere else. If I can’t go to the gym – I will do it my way.
Exercising was my straw of salvation and one of the ways I kept common sense. Besides sport, I love making cookies and cakes – although I don’t eat much😊.
I started my Instagram profile: Lako I brzo hrana (cooking fast and easy) to help all working moms out there prepare quick and simple meals. I’ve always loved writing. I am journaling since I was 13. I also practiced journaling to keep track of Faruk’s progress and write down all those cute situations we’ve had with our children.
I wanted to remember those moments, and I recommend all the parents keep track in writing of all significant moments.
That brought me to the idea to start a blog, Faruk and me, where I write how life can be wonderful besides all challenges life brought me. I also have an Instagram profile, Faruk I ja, where I spread only joy and Love. I present there a world of a boy, a young person who enjoys and goes through life with a smile on his face beside all challenges he is facing.
You can find us here
Maya: I love your Instagram profiles, and I am falling in Love with Faruk every time I watch your videos😊. Thanks for putting your wonderful example out in the world.
What is your biggest success/victory?
Anita: My biggest success and victory are Faruk’s smile. The fact that our family didn’t collapse. We’ve had two options: either to fall apart or to become stronger than ever.
We’ve chosen the second option. Faruk’s progress and his joy are affecting everyone around him. With my perspective and point of view, I succeed in changing the perspectives of other people around me, starting from my family. Everyone who knows me is now looking at disabilities completely differently. Faruk liberated the people in our environment from pity and opened their minds.
Today, other people are first noticing his smile and then his challenges. That’s my biggest joy and my biggest success. His brother Alem often hugs him and tells him, “I love your smile. It’s the prettiest smile in the world.” And when Faruk cuddles with his dad, and they both enjoy mutual Love and warmth.
And it’s definitely success when Faruk manages to provoke giggling with his humor at people who never believed he will develop so much.
It’s a victory when he enters the room with a big smile, and a few years ago, his day would start with screaming and crying. When I hear someone from our environment saying, “I couldn’t imagine that it’s so much fun being around Faruk,” after spending some time with him.
When someone starts to see disabilities with new eyes makes me happy.
All of the above is my mission. For people to stop feeling sorry and petty, but to see that each one of us has something to give to the world.
Maya: What do you wish you could have done sooner?
Anita: I would love to have someone like you at the beginning of our story to guide me through the rough periods. Special parents today had better options than parents like us 20 years ago.
Back then, there weren’t social media, and the internet wasn’t so much in our everyday life. Every beginning is hard. We have to go through the early stages alone and then do the most difficult thing: accepting the situation we are in.
But to have directions and support to overcome all of this faster and easier – it’s a huge blessing. I’ve been through a lot by myself, and it would be wonderful if I had the support like there is an option today.
Luckily my experience as it is, shaped me into the person I am today.
Maya: I know first-hand that you are so much more impressive and amazing than one can get the impression from this interview😊.
What’s your best advice for all special parents?
Anita: First, I would say to give plenty of attention to the child. To not hold on so tight to the diagnosis. That could stop you and hold the progress. Don’t read disturbing prognosis. Turn to your child and see it for who it is. Build the very much needed and important connection with each other. Our children, no matter if they are verbal or not – can feel us. They feel our energy and the fact whether we’ve accepted them fully as they are.
Every child can feel that. I am talking from personal experience. Faruk doesn’t have verbal skills, but when I tell him that he is beautiful, smart, and gorgeous, I receive a back smile of pleasure because he feels that I am saying the truth.
Another thing I would like to advise all the parents is to help themselves. Strengthen your mental game. Develop a healthy point of you about the situation you are having in your life. The stronger you are – the stronger your child will get.
After the initial shock that could last two or more years, you need to work on your mental game and the way you look at things.
The third piece of advice is: Believe in miracles. Believe in your miracles, not what other people say. Even the least progress of your child is a small miracle that prepares you for the bigger ones. One of our miracles is when Faruk succeed in putting on his own socks by himself at the age of 17. Yes, it was our miracle, and I was screaming with joy.
Turn to yourself and your child, and don’t let other people’s stories and opinions mess with their shadow your happiness.
Maya: Thank you so much for your time and your amazing perspectives. Would you like something to add?
Anita: I would like to say that I am so happy that there are people like you, Maya. I am so happy that there is an internet community that brings wider consciousness and accepting differences. But changes can’t happen in one day.
Still, every little step is leading to changing the collective consciousness.
Dear Maya, I wish you the best of luck in your further work.
Dear parents, you are not alone. Every beginning is difficult. But when we open our hearts and minds and manage to help ourselves, we automatically make all the other processes we need to go through with our children.
P.s. : You can watch one of Anita’s interviews on the local TV in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even if you don’t understand Bosnian, you can see her beautiful energy.