Today, the 1st of March is a day to celebrate our children nationally. There are so many things to celebrate as we reflect on our children and grandchildren and what they bring into our lives.  For most of us, there is nothing more special than when a baby has been born and as we watch them grow and develop in their lives.

Becoming a parent brings a number of different adjustments to the world as we saw it. It is a time of mixed emotions and a challenge as our lives change and we adjust to having responsibilities and another small person to think about.

When a child has a health condition the role of parenting has many layers and the world as you know it shifts dramatically. What was expected as a parent and what the reality is collides. Parents have the added role of also being caregivers.  This may include managing technology that feeds their child, assists them to breathe, administers intravenous medications and suctions excessive secretions too copious for the child to swallow.  This is alongside parental care of daily lifting their child in and out of wheelchairs, managing hoists and other equipment that supports their child to be at home.  Most importantly is the hyper vigilance that is required to oversee their child’s care and wellbeing.

While I want to take this day to celebrate and honour the children of our nation, today, I cannot do so without acknowledging those parents of children with complex health conditions.

These parents work hard and tirelessly to ensure their child lives to have the best quality of life possible. Without the knowledge parents have in administering medications to keep their child pain free or to manage seizures, feeding pumps, and different respiratory equipment to support breathing, we would not have the opportunity to celebrate and treasure these children of our nation who have challenges every day that we could not possibly understand unless we have walked in their shoes.

We honour and salute you as we celebrate children today.