You are a parent. Your everyday chaos is a constant reminder of your status. You are a parent. Full stop. And suddenly now, you exist to serve others, namely the little hellions running around destroying everything. And for this you should still be grateful because after all, not all are as blessed as you. Your children were and are a gift and should be treated as such. So who are you to wish for a little easy, just every once and a while.
I was scrolling along some of my special needs parenting Facebook groups when I came across a post of a woman who in a vent wished for once she didn’t have to deal with special needs and just wished her son was “normal.” She lamented how stressed she was with his behavior and how much attention she’s had to give to her offspring who’s needs take over much of her day. She worries for her son, feeling some days she doesn’t have what it takes to care for him the way he needs. As is typical in these groups, us fellow moms with similar situations come to her aid, offer the best advice and tell her to hang in there… “it’ll all be okay,” we say simultaneously. One friend told her that all children need special attention and that no child is normal. To in the end be grateful for the gifts your son has to offer. Hmm… there those words are again… be grateful. I read through most of the responses before I chimed in.
“Your feelings are valid,” I claimed. I didn’t feel anything else needed to be said. This woman had probably had a bad day, and knew logically that she should be grateful for the all the wonderful things her child is. That he is not is diagnosis and he was made especially for her because why not her. These are all the things we special needs parents hear. All. the. time. And we should because parenting isn’t easy by it’s damn self. We are led to believe it’s this wonderful, amazing thing that happens and suddenly you just adapt to being a parent because well, intuition. Everything is just supposed to kick in and you’ll just know what to do. But that doesn’t always happen, does it? The motherhood goddess myth has kind of ruined the actual reality of motherhood. We have these lofty expectations and then are not prepared for the pure reality of what it means to be responsible for raising another human being. It’s a daunting task, one that no one is truly prepared for. And that overwhelming feeling is enough to cause some parents to feel disconnected, and sometimes discontented with their child because they weren’t ready. Now, add a special need, or two, or five, and it can be a real crap shoot most of the time because you are constantly having to learn something new and integrate those new things into routine which probably need to be a consistent thing to help your child cope with life. Yada Yada Yada. But still, this woman was crying out in pure exhaustion. She was done for today and needed someone who would just listen to her, hear her out, and tell her she wasn’t a bad person for wishing the special needs away. No, it didn’t mean she would love her son just a tad bit more if he was typically-developing. She just meant what she said. She was tired. No more, no less.
And so with that on my mind, I wanted to reach out to you. To the mom who feels overlooked and underappreciated. To the wife who is neglected and taken for granted most days. To the special needs parent who has had to put aside his or her career to care and advocate for a child with needs he or she never even knew existed until the diagnosis. To the military spouse who misses a sense of normalcy… who, despite getting to live in the most exotic places most people merely dream of, still longs for a house of his or her own closest to family and friends. To the dad who feels overwhelmed with the burden of caring for a large family on his own. To the widow who still grieves the loss of her spouse when everyone around her believes she should move forward with her own life. I see you. Your feelings are valid. And don’t ever feel guilty for having them or feeling them. Your emotions are a large part of who you are. They drive you. They motivate you. And they push you to be more than you’d ever thought possible in a million years.
So be ever thankful. Soak yourself in the riches of God’s blessings. Let your voice ring out in thanksgiving and praise for the life you’ve been given, and get to live, everyday. But know it’s okay to be frustrated, angry, resentful, embarrassed, afraid, and all the other crazy things you feel day to day because YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN.
You are only human, my friend. You can’t be everyone to everybody every damn day. Take a step back, breathe, and leave it all on the table because honey, your feelings are valid.