If you are a parent you probably know parenting is hard. There is no manual, no buzzer to tell you when you right or wrong for the decisions you make. Its saying silent prayers that when your child becomes an adult he/she is a healthy, happy, loving individual.
But what if this little bundle you gave birth to receives a diagnosis along the way, such as; autism, anxiety, OCD, a brain injury, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or maybe not physical, maybe its emotional or neurological. Some of which are invisible to the world.
This puts your whole world as you know it into a tailspin. You know something isn’t right with your child, but you don’t want to acknowledge it. You know once you do, it means you have to accept it and deal with it. When the acknowledgment happens then life will change as we know it. You begin to grieve for the child you gave birth to before you can accept the ‘new’ one. Once this happens you want to talk about it. You need to learn, to gain insight, knowledge as to how, why and what to do next. You seek friends to understand what you are feeling and going through.
You look to your family, your spouse, your siblings, friends, anyone and everyone who will listen to you. This doesn’t work so well because it seems no one is listening, conversation is awkward and hard. There’s no longer anything in common, they can’t relate and don’t understand. Then comes the judgment.
You try your coworkers, you try happy hour with friends, but none of that works. All of this makes you feel worse, shameful. Like somehow all this is your fault. So you stop talking, you withdrawal, you don’t work. All of this leads to more judgment. You start doubting everything you feel, think, do and say as if you aren’t meant to be a parent at all. You feel all alone and that is where you and your special needs child become inseparable and you both become each others ‘person’.
When the time does present itself to say anything at all it seems you always have to justify that ‘but I love him so much’, or the other person feels that they need to make you feel better by saying ‘oh well he seems and looks perfectly normal’. Whatever that means right!
Raising a child with special needs is something only other parents with special needs children will get. And even then, each and every child with special needs is completely different, even with the same diagnosis. We tell ourselves that people have it so much worse, stop feeling like this. We tell ourselves that it could be worse. We tell ourselves to stop complaining and just be glad you have a child and he/she is alive. I am here to say this is wrong. I am always about love, peace, and happiness. I am always about being kind to one another and the saying “don’t judge another until you walk in their shoes”. I also say, everything you feel is relevant to your situation. No one can undermine your feelings. I sincerely believe that. Special needs parents feel things I am sure would make typical parents so uncomfortable.
I have heard special needs parents say things like, they feel like they may not love their special needs child enough because of the diagnosis and the difficult days have beat her down. I have heard that autism is a curse to her son, its not a blessing. Another mom said she hasn’t been sleeping and wants to take sleeping pills and never wake up. There have been talk about Mom’s wishing their special needs child would pass before they do because the thought of the child living on without their ‘person’ (MOM) is heart wrenching.
There is therapy after therapy, PT, OT, Speech, and sometimes Vision therapy, Brain therapy. There’s wrap around, floor-time, ABA, Cognitive behavioral and/or Psychological counseling. Most of these therapies are outside of the home and some are people in and out of your home. Its hard listening to other parents of typical children brag about their child, how they go to birthday parties, how they scored three touchdowns in the Friday night game, and how they went to prom and had a great time. Even with siblings, its one of the most difficult things to hear even though you are incredible happy for the other child and parents, there will always be that part of you that wishes just for that moment what it feel like if that were you and your child.
Its punishment to see your child fight through each day. To watch them be vulnerable and plagued with their diagnosis. To know that they are not getting better but instead are getting depressed and angry at themselves for being the way they are. We have to see our children targeted via internet, school bullies, neighborhood bullies, and so on. We are on constant monitoring and it most likely will not stop until we are no longer alive. Its a difficult time for parents when they don’t know how to plan for their future. How to plan their Last Will and Testament, or if their child will go college. There is a different way of doing all of the above when there is a special needs child involved.
What I have learned is that we should never question our love for our children, as I will never question mine. I will move mountains for my child – I feel like I already have. I go from devastation to elation then heartbreak to joyfulness all in a instant. All we can do is keep loving and remember to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to be strong and advocate for our children. But my true question is, how can we advocate for something we hate? Its a silent struggle.
I personally, wouldn’t change it…..today.