Parenting is exhausting. No one ever questions that. You pour yourself into these little beings hoping and praying you are doing everything right for them and watching them grow and change. All the while your heart grows full of love and breaks in their pains and disappointments.
Parenting a special needs child is exhaustive to the point of no return sometimes. Not only do you pour yourself into them, there is often no respite or relief in sight. People get on you last nerves with the “I don’t know how you do it.” or the “I couldn’t do what you do.” Often we are just too tired to respond.
First of all, we can’t compare the parenting. Each child, special needs or not, has their own crucibles they will go through that we are trusted with to help them navigate it. We all want our children to come out of childhood and the teenage years as respectful adults. Preferably we hope that they are responsible as well as functioning members of society. That also means being realistic with what our ones with special considerations needs will be for the future.
Second. That statement of you couldn’t do it or you don’t know how we do it is more than likely like nails on a chalkboard to us. We hear it all the time. Most of the time we just set our jaws, clench our teeth and just grin a little bit to not scream at you. The truth is, we do it because there isn’t an alternative. You would do it too in the same circumstances. Or you would figure it out. Just like we have had to do, you would as well. We sure hope we are doing the right thing, but only time will tell.
Comparing the two parenting styles goes beyond apples and oranges. It’s more like trying to compare a Carnival to a Three Ring Circus with death defying acrobatics and tricks. We are juggling and keeping up with life at the pace it’s dealt to us, light speed. Which is why when you look at us, some of us have the signs of a zombie. We are functioning and living sometimes with little to no sleep.
Don’t tell us that we look rough. Please. We know it. Some of us are tag team parenting; others of us are doing the solo act part time to all the time. It doesn’t matter. We are pushing forward. We are fighting for our kids just like you are fighting for your kids.
Some of us can’t figure out where the next break is coming. We are juggling school, doctor appointments, therapy appointments, extracurricular activities for some (if not all) of our children, work for some of us, medicine rechecks, blood work with help around, meals for the pickiest of eaters and those on special diets, IEPs and the meetings, ensuring everyone is getting sleep, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and anything else you can think of. And we do it all trying to not complain and often with minimal assistance. Sometimes, some of us have families to help or get services to grant us respite. That time goes often to catch up one stuff we may have put off and need to focus on.
We don’t put ourselves in the spotlight. We don’t give ourselves the care we need. Sometimes that happens out of necessity and sometimes it’s just we don’t know how to walk away and let it go. We are in this rodeo on this bucking bronco trying to hold on. We fear if we adjust our grip just a little bit, we are going to fly right off and lose everything we’ve worked so hard to maintain and gain.
So don’t judge us if we look a little run down. Please don’t judge us if you say something to us that you don’t think should set us off. We may snap at you or burst into tears depending on the day. Some of us may seem cold and distant because we have decided we aren’t going to show our emotions and we are thick skinned, but in the privacy of our homes when it’s dark we will break and sob uncontrollably as long as time allows. Others of us will take that moment to educate you or break right then and there as we have held ourselves together too long and it’s the icing on the cake.
We are human. We aren’t Super Mom or Super Dad. We try to be. The reality is we are all trying our best and that’s all anyone can ask or expect of us. You would be too if the cards were dealt differently. You would find a way to fight for your child just as hard as you fight now just having to deal with it more than you may be now, all at once.
We all are in this parenting thing together. We are all going to make mistakes and be stronger than we think we are. And that is what makes us all unique. We all have kids. We all think they are special. And we would move heaven and earth to make life amazing for them.
So excuse me now for a little while. I’ve been on the pony ride too long this morning and need to get back on the bucking bronco over yonder and try to keep this rodeo moving forward.