Today was a difficult day. Who am I kidding? They’re all difficult days in one way or another. If the Engineer has a decent day, the Destroyer throws a grand screaming fit on the floor complete with head banging and thrashing. If my hip stops throbbing long enough for me to walk decently, I have difficulty breathing and can barely get off the couch. It seems that life has become even more difficult than the last time I blogged about this.
I’m not trying to whine. It probably sounds that way, but I’m not. I’m overwhelmed. And that’s ok.
It’s ok that I want to quit. It’s ok that I seriously question our choices to have children. It’s ok that I feel like I’ve lost a huge part of myself and simplified my role into just mom. It’s ok that I frequently want to give up and run away to Hawaii, leaving my children behind as someone else’s problem. It’s ok that I really don’t want to homeschool right now because I feel like a failure that’s ruining my kid’s education. It’s ok.
Why is all of this ok? Because it’s temporary. It’s a brief, fleeting thought in a brief, fleeting day that doesn’t reflect who I really am. It’s a stressed-out, overwhelmed response to a difficult situation.
I didn’t sign up for this. When they give you the newborn packet at the hospital and send you out all breathless and excited that the baby is finally here, they fail to include the “Special Needs Possibility” brochure in there. Your child will be perfect, no question about it.
The parenting books don’t really talk about it. Mommy and me baby groups never ever hint that your baby might be less than perfect in any possible way. In fact, it’s assumed that any flaws in your child are probably your fault. You’re not parenting the “right” way. You gave in to the little tyrant and held him for an hour so that he could nap (because he wouldn’t any other way.) You made him a picky eater because your food choices during pregnancy weren’t perfectly healthy.
You didn’t model socially acceptable behavior for her and that’s why she’s incapable of sharing toys with other “normal” kids. It’s your fault that he’s hysterical if you leave – you’re a clingy, helicopter parent that caused this terrifying anxiety. It’s all your fault.
I have one, simple thing to say to that: bullshit.
It’s not your fault.
It’s just the way your kid is.
Notice I didn’t say it’s their fault. Because it’s not. They’re born this way. It’s who they are. It’s terrifying, quirky, scary, off-putting, or just plain weird, but it’s the way they are. Trying to force them to be something different is like telling them to wear their shoes on the wrong feet: it feels horrible and awkward. I’m not saying they can’t learn to cope, or learn to act “normal.” A lot of kids, mine included, have to work really hard at learning things that are instinctive for neurotypical children.
No, your kid didn’t ask for this. Neither did you. So it’s ok if things get overwhelming for both of you. It’s ok to dream of white, sandy beaches. It’s ok to wish that the shiny yellow school bus would stop at your door today. It’s all right if you need to go take a few minutes to breath and regroup, because you’re human. You have limits. So do they.
In the grand scheme of things, our family doesn’t have too much to complain about. The Engineer can feed himself, can dress himself, and he’s highly verbal (until he’s not.) I remind myself of how things have gotten better in a lot of ways, and determinedly ignore the downgrade in other areas. It’s really not all that bad, right?
That’s really not important. What’s important is that I feel overwhelmed. Our family struggles. The kids try to cope with things they can’t understand that are too much for them. We parents try to cope with no safety net and no support network. Mr. Genius and I joke that the “village” abandoned us – that village that it takes to raise a child? Yeah, they ditched us because we’re too much trouble.
We’re doing our best. And sometimes, our best means turning up the music as loud as possible to drown the kids out for a few minutes. Sometimes our best means early bedtimes, because I just want to close the door and be done for the day. Sometimes, our best means ignoring the sink full of dirty dishes and the toy explosion in the living room in favor of a movie together when the kids are asleep. We find a way to cope.
And we have to. You have to. If you can’t cope with what is, you’ll break. You need time for yourself, for your partner. You need time to relax, to de-stress, to refuel for the battle that is tomorrow. So figure out what works for you and do it. Take no excuses, give guilt no foothold. Take care of yourself.
And don’t do it for the children. Do it for you.
You matter too.
Note: if the brief fleeting moments of despair become hours, days, months, please go talk to a professional. Clinical depression is no small thing to ignore – you might need help to overcome it.