Category: Parenting (page 2 of 4)

How Do I Feel? Like I’m Being Split In Two.

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I took this photo of myself as I sat in the passenger side seat of our car this morning; while our daughter screamed. My husband was attempting to help her navigate the current problem she was experiencing and help her, and I sat there with my head pushing into my hand – staring out the window, numb.

Things have been hard lately. I am pretty sure I’ve been saying that for about 3 years if I’m totally honest. Having an autistic husband and two autistic girls puts me in the position of being able to educate, inform and raise acceptance. And I will tell you that autism expands my world and it broadens my thinking, because it does. But what I won’t tell you always is that it feels like I’m being pulled in diagonally opposite directions. That it feels like I am trying to be broken from two directions at the same time. I won’t tell you this though mostly because then I have to go into more detail and explain and most of the time – I just simply have no energy.

The pulling in two directions isn’t my child versus me, no. It’s not some battle I am having with my child. It’s all me actually. One half of me is giving up, throwing my hands into the air with utter despair and shouting “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! I GIVE UP!”. This half of me feels beaten, sad, emotionally void with nothing left to give. The other half of me however is the perky little birdie on my shoulder,  annoying as all hell. It’s telling me I can keep trying, that it’s okay and that things will get better.

It’s a constant push/pull.   C O N S T A NT . 

It’s very hard for me lately to feel anything but desolate isolation and utter defeat. I’m pretty sure my child has screamed about 10 hours this week, in total. That’s over five days. She screams and flops onto the floor rolling around with her hands in her ears, I walk over & scoop her up in my arms and place her in her room (where she has her tools to self-regulate) to stop my other children being scared and frightened by her behaviour, she inevitably comes out again and we repeat the cycle until she finally calms herself and we can then problem solve together. All the while I am having to remain calm and keep myself together because I know she isn’t doing this by choice and I don’t need to burden her with my hurt or exasperation which she isn’t causing on purpose or with intent.

I feel beaten. I feel broken. I feel like I should be able to help her but yet she’s still screaming. We have small moments of calm but mostly it’s us trying to fumble our way through our lives with a tiny sense of normality and purpose and direction amidst all the chaos. And when there is calm, we are often pre-empting the next challenge – too scared to enjoy it. This isn’t even taking into account my other children’s needs that demand to be met or that of my own; or even that of my marriage.

I can so hear she’s struggling and I am constantly trying alongside my husband and our support team to find ways to make her life easier, and enable her to help herself and cope better. I don’t want to see her so upset, confused and overwhelmed. But I would be lying if I said that sometimes it gets to the point of irrationally not caring anymore and I fantasise about driving off. That’s when the stupid annoying birdie on my shoulder tells me to dig deeper, have a break and keep trying. And I do.

I’ve got to hope that things will get better. I know she’s young and she’ll learn how to self-regulate and won’t constantly dump all her problems in my lap. And I know some days will be absolutely crap and for me, sometimes it’s easier just to feel the feels and honour them… and then get back on track.

I feel like some days I am the most boring person ever. Complaining about how hard our lives are, how tired we are, how little time my husband and I actually get together and then when we do it’s mostly sitting in silence and not talking because we are so tired and run down from constantly talking, constantly trying to problem solve and come up with ideas that may help.  I feel frail and fragile, like a spider’s web caught out in a storm with only remnants remaining afterwards but desperately still clinging on to what grounds me.

And then other days I have a fire in my belly, a rhythm to my step and I pound my way through my day leaving marked tracks so others can follow. In those days I am a warrior woman, fighting for my child, pushing as her advocate and making myself known. I won’t give up and I won’t be quiet.

But god, would I love some nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff To Do When You Feel Like Quitting Motherhood.

You know the days I am talking about. There’s constant bickering, constant mess. You seriously feel like you have been pushed way beyond your limit numerous times over and you’re scraping the bottom of your coping strategies.

 

this is my "happy happy joy joy joy" expression. truly.

this is my “happy happy joy joy joy” expression. truly.

But alas, dear Mama. You can keep on. Here’s a list of stuff I do when I feel like throwing in the towel that actually helps.

  1. Get Some Sun On Ya Skin. 
    Even to just sit with a cup of tea or some fruit on the deck while the kids climb all over you – getting outside can help keep perspective. Or bundle them all into the car and go and toss a frisbee. It’ll help. Trust me.
  2. Don’t Stress About Food.
    Sometimes the demands for food seem never ending. It gets to the stage where you end up asking yourself “really? they have to eat AGAIN?”. So take the pressure off. Eggs are fine for dinner. Or slow cookers are great for bunging stuff in and walking away and letting it cook and sure most of the time the food all kind of tastes the same but hey it’s one less battle you have to fight. Although curries are really nice in the slowie.  If all else fails, get some pizza in. But hot chips with chicken salt are our favourite for the nights cooking is just not happening (okay so like, at least once a week).
  3. Go Out.
    I realise that asking you to leave the house when your children are making you crazy seems like a big ask but sometimes just getting out and having a break from the mess, fighting and turning circles can be just the ticket in order to refresh and reboot. Bugger the housework, take the kids somewhere beautiful and reconnect. Fenced parks or the beach are usually my favoured locations; preferably after I have gone past a drive-through coffee shop on the way.
  4. Embrace the Screens.
    We have quite highly moderated screen-time rules in our house but I believe that on days when it’s all gone down the crapper, it’s okay to relax the rules a bit. Think of the iPad or iPod as a “tool” and sometimes you need to use certain tools more than others. If the screen will buy you enough time to lay in bed and recharge for an hour or even half an hour so you can then be a better parent; then go for it.
  5. Check Out Pinterest.
    Okay this sounds totally cliched and trite I realise but I’m being honest here when I say that Pinterest is an awesome tool to use when you’re struggling. On there you can search under boards for simple ideas to keep the kids entertained ranging from DIY craft projects that can be done outside, to even something as simple as a free printable colouring in page. And there’s heaps of recipes on there too so if making 3-minute chocolate mousse is your answer to a more peaceful household then get to it! I love using Pinterest as a resource for fine motor activities, craft and sensory play ideas. I also pin many recipes on there as well as shit I’d love to buy but probably won’t ever afford. It’s fun. You can follow me here.
  6. Do Some Meditation and Yoga. 
    My personal version of meditation involves eating a packet of Doritos in the bathtub with the door closed and locked while my children think I’m “cleaning” but if you wanna do the real thing, that’s cool too. And despite me actually fitting in yoga about 4-5 times a week (I set my girls up with food, pink-tea and craft and then hit the mat and go for as long as I can manage), what I am really getting at here is – take some time for you. Whether it’s authentic time or you can also borrow my version of meditation if you like. But honestly yoga really does help. I do Adriene’s videos on youtube.
  7. Don’t Ask For Time Out – Just Take it.
    A simple rephrasing of “Can I have some time alone?” to “I’m going out for an hour, seeya later.” is all it takes. If you’re an awesome single parent, think about who you know would be willing to help you out and if you just totally cannot leave your children with someone then set them up with some food, give them a screen and go and do something you love just for you for half an hour. Or take them to the park and spend the entire time you are there with them on your phone. Hey, no judgement from me at all. Let the kids know before you arrive that the deal is they play: you phone. If they don’t play to the rules then it’s home time again.

I hope this list helps a little. I’d love to hear any other ideas you have. Please don’t feel bad for wanting some time out. Parenting is really fucking hard if you’re doing a good job, because that means you care enough about your children to keep trying harder. If you weren’t trying it would be easy, and they’d probably be a lot worse off. They value you and love you, so try and model self-care because you’re allowed to look after yourself, too.

You Know You’re Done Having Babies:

  1. When newborn cries don’t make your breasts leak, they just make you shudder.
  2. When seeing tiny onesies make you go “thank God that’s over!”
  3. When you fantasise about sex in your own bed rather than on the couch, in the kitchen or in the shower.
  4. When you love cuddling other people’s babies because you can hand them back.
  5. When you see a pregnant belly and all the memories of uncomfortableness just come screaming back to you.
  6. When you can’t wait to buy clothing that doesn’t require room for belly expansion or boob-access.
  7. When your response to “are you having more?” is “fuck no!” before they’ve even finished asking the question.
  8. When the thought of a vasectomy is foreplay in its own right.medium-babies-galore
  9. When you’re counting down the months til you no longer have to deal with toddler tantrums.
  10. When reading the last bedtime story is going to be a happy event.
  11. When never buying nappies again means you can spend that money on cider!
  12. When your friend tells you she is pregnant and your immediate response is heartfelt condolences.
  13. When friends announce their pregnancy to you and inside your head you’re all “Hahahaha SUCKER!”
  14. When you love having sex but would happily abstain forever unless there was some permanent birth control methods put into place.
  15. When you have a dream about having another one but oh hang on its not a dream it’s a nightmare because dreams don’t cause you to wake up screaming, shaking and sweating.

26 Signs You’ve Reached the CBF Stage of Motherhood.

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  1. You wear ugh boots to school & kindy drop off.
  2. And actually, some days you don’t wear shoes at all.
  3. Brushing your hair becomes note-worthy.
  4. You consider yourself to be achieving in a big way when you’ve had a cup of tea or coffee that was hot.
  5. When you congratulate yourself for not swearing in front of the teacher or Principal.
  6. Your children’s clothes are sorted into categories of “smelly but could be worn again/clean/filthy and need washing/too filthy to even bother cleaning: throw out”.
  7. You let your children make their own breakfast on the weekend and you know they’re using numerous sorts of condiments but you don’t care as long as they leave you alone to sleep in bed and put off Actual Parenting as long as possible.
  8. You use baby wipes to clean far too many things because it means less laundry.
  9. You’ve given up categorising the cutlery drawer and as long as it’s off the sink & away that’s fine by you.
  10. This also applies to your own clothes: if they’re off the floor/bed; that counts as away.
  11. You regard teaching your children how to use PayWave and run in and pay for takeaway and small grocery items to be an important life skill they need to learn.
  12. Instead of nagging your children to clean their rooms and put away toys; you just embrace the chance to practise your minimalist beliefs and turf them or donate them instead.
  13. It’s occurred to you that baby wipes also totally make great armpit deodorisers when your own personal scent has become overpowering but you forgot to pack the deodorant.
  14. Your kindergartener asks you why you’re using “Daddy’s iron” which leads me to;
  15. You only buy clothes that don’t require ironing.
  16. You encourage your children to go “fridge diving” on nights when cooking dinner just simply isn’t happening.
  17. You set your voicemail to say “I’m not answering because: children. Send me a text instead if it’s really important.”
  18. Your children eat hot chips way too often (hey.. it’s a vegetable!).
  19. You regularly set your children up with iDevices and snacks when you want to do things like go to the toilet alone, have sex or even just play on your phone uninterrupted for 15 minutes without anyone touching you.
  20. The drive-through coffee shop staff members know your name and order off by heart.
  21. Children wearing shoes when out and about is totally optional (and one less fight you need to have).
  22. Washable markers make great temporary-tattoo makers for your toddler.
  23. Maple tastes just as good in coffee as sugar does because really; the prospect of taking children to a supermarket again is something you just can’t face.
  24. Your idea of contributing to a school “morning tea” is bringing along a packet of (already opened) rice crackers.
  25. You regularly wrap presents in newspaper or random scraps of fabric because you keep forgetting to buy actual wrapping paper.
  26. You have been known to use random clothing items including socks, hats and jackets to mop up spills your children make when you’re out because you never remember to bring your own wipes.
  27. You consider yourself to be doing a good job of parenting when your two year old swears in context.

Yeaaaaaaah. I’ve totally got this down. Except I totally don’t some days. But you know what? That’s okay.

 

 

 

Is Having A Large Family Really That Much Harder?

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As a mother of four daughters, I can tell you right now that although having a large family can be pretty exhausting; I really love the chaos that comes as part of it. So here’s a snapshot from an insider’s perspective:

The laundry. Oh, the laundry.
Yeah.. with a large family, that means a lot of washing. In Winter that means a lot of layers and some days (OK weeks) you just won’t be able to get on top of the washing at all. But do not fear! Make it part of your House Rules that children put away their own clothing, and that they know for certain where the laundry hamper is. Also: ignoring it proves to be a good tactic, too. Because laundry is boring anyway. I recommend finding a good concealed dumping zone for your clean washing so it isn’t an eyesore; and you can contentedly pretend it doesn’t exist.

You’ll spend a lot of time thinking about food.
Preparing food, cooking food, buying food, packing food, putting food away. And because there’s more mouths to feed; you simply have to put more conscious thought into what you’re buying and eating because feeding a tribe does not necessarily come cheap! The good news is; if you’re thrifty and clever with your planning and spending, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. You get smart with food: you buy in bulk, cook double batches and if you’re like me you encourage your children to pack their own school lunches themselves and make their own breakfasts. Something important to remember too is that it’s perfectly OK to serve the kids eggs for dinner, too.

Kids don’t actually need that much “stuff”.
It’s a common misconception that children cost a lot of money and yeah sure.. some stuff does add up. But kids don’t need buckets of toys and the latest gadgets, despite them perhaps saying so. What children really need is parents who are present and learning how to get along with their siblings with whom they can make their childhood memories. Leave the toys for the birthdays and Christmases, buy clothes on sale or second-hand and be thrifty. Too many toys can hinder creativity, it’s good for children to learn how to “make do” and think outside the square with their leisure time.
When you have a large family somedays you’ll find yourself spread pretty thin and feel like an overstretched elastic band. But trust me when I say you’ll appreciate the quiet moments however sparse throughout the day where you can reconnect with your children one-on-one, enjoy a cuppa in solitude (even if it is when you’ve locked yourself in the bathroom to do so) or just hold them in your arms, however briefly. Remember: it isn’t what material possessions you give a child that counts – but the memories you build and share together, and those will be what sustains you both when you’re feeling awash in the manic zoo that comes with being a large family.

Is Punishment Really The Answer?

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As my parenting has evolved over the years; it’s become more and more clear to me the type of parent I don’t want to become. That’s the type of parent who shames, belittles, humiliates or punishes my child. I don’t want to become the type of parent who needs to dish out unhappiness to my child when they’ve done the wrong thing and are probably already feeling bad. In my experience, punishing only leads to resentment and a block in communication. I am my child’s ally, I am their advocate, I am their supporter. I’ll love them even when they speak harshly to me, I’ll never give up on them even if they make the same mistake five times.  I want my girls to know that it’s okay  to stuff up, and I want to teach them how to manage failure and also how to rectify problems themselves so that they are able to form a greater sense of independence and resilience.

So here’s what I suggest, instead of reacting immediately to bad behaviour with threats, punishments and unnecessary revenge:

  1. Natural consequences. For example: “You lost your hat; so you don’t get to play outside during lunchtime at school til you find it”.
  2. Enable the child to problem solve a solution or preventative strategy.  For example: “This didn’t go right, how you we make sure it doesn’t happen next time?” Or “What can you do differently next time?”
  3. Time in together. More often than not, undesirable behaviour is often just a disguised scream for attention.
  4. Flip the coin.  Think about how you would like to be treated if you stuffed up.
  5. Look for the underlying cause of the behaviour. The child lashed out but was it just a random burst of rage, or is it due to underlying jealousy/anxiety?
  6. Breathe, and take a moment before reacting. Rational thinking is best done with a calm state of mind; don’t lash out – think first.
  7. Keep perspective. How bad is this in the broad scheme of things? Respond accordingly.
  8. Using feeling words to describe how the situation has affected you. For example: “I’m feeling pretty hurt by how you just spoke to me.”
  9. Validate feelings. For example: “Wow, you seem pretty unhappy to me. I’m here when you want to talk about it.”
  10. Allow a do-over. Remember we all stuff up sometimes; ask your child if they’d like a second chance at the situation and empower them to make a better choice the second time around.

Children are innately intelligent. They learn by pushing boundaries to see how things fall apart, or how others respond. Parenting doesn’t have to come from a harsh place. Children are able to learn to respect their parents and at the same time be respected as individuals who own their own path to learning and developing. It’s a parent’s job to provide them an unconditionally loving home-life and picking them up when they fall down or veer off track, no questions asked. They definitely need boundaries however and these should always come from a place of respect and love – never anger.

I Had My First Baby When I was 19 and I Wouldn’t Change It.

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When we were young and carefree; 9 weeks before Sno came along.

I’ve made some pretty controversial decisions over my life and the way I live it but the one that seems to get the most attention from society in general who I cross paths with is my age, and how old my babies are.

It’s been almost nine years now since I first became a parent and I can still remember being asked incredulously if I “knew the father of my baby”  by another mother whilst I was pregnant for the first time, during an aqua therapy lesson. Well, yes, I did in fact know the father of my unborn baby: AS I WAS MARRIED TO HIM. The shock I felt at the absolute ignorance during that moment is still palpable and I still look back on that comment and shake my head at the sheer stupidity of some people and the conclusions their brains leap to in such short succession.

It seems that people think that the age of a mother somehow determines her worth or capability, or skills. I was a young first-time mother, sure. And I didn’t own my own house or even have a drivers licence, no. But I was capable, and loving, and you know what? My baby wasn’t an accident. She was conceived with passionate intention and my husband and I were beyond excited to welcome her into our lives. And yeah, she shook our world. But I don’t think that’s an age-specific experience. I’m sure every parent feels out of their depth and flounders momentarily when they’re thrust a newborn into their lives; and I don’t think that being young or of a particular age really makes that any less or worse.

I don’t think there ever comes that perfect moment in anyones life where they raise their hands and say “yeah I’m ready for sleep deprivation and to say goodbye to spontaneity”. There’s always going to be something else to layer onto that “perfect” scene: another car, a new bathroom, a bigger house. Parenting is hard and sacrifices will always exist within it. But isn’t that the essence of parenthood? Unconditional love and putting oneself second to their child.

And I’d go so far as to say that I am glad that I have been a parent at a young age because I cannot imagine being ten years older than I am now and having to still deal with sleepless nights, demands of toddlers and the general constant pressure and relentlessness that comes from parenting small children. I’m so glad that next year – as I am 30, I will have a ten year old, an 8 year old, a 5 year old and a 3 year old and the early baby years will be mostly behind me. My body will be mine. My sleep will be mine. And my girls will have the presence of a mother who is able to be actively involved and keep up with them socially on a fairly level playing field, too.

My mother had me when she was 37, and although I know she would have had me earlier if her body had allowed it – the generation gap and ability to relate that exists between her and I is clear and it is wide and expansive.

I would not change being a young mother, not for the world. And I think my girls would agree.

Because not only have they had me and my husband as young enthusiastic, willing and capable parents who are constantly fighting for them to have the best childhoods they can in our individual circumstances; being a young parent has blessed my daughters with Grandparents who are also young and who play a major role in their lives and in shaping their identities. They have had many years of building memories with agile, wonderful and involved Grandparents and they’ve even had the honour of not one but four great-Grandparents too. That to me is pretty special.

So sure we don’t own our own house, and yes sometimes my girls have had to “make do” because that’s all that our financial limitations have allowed. But at the end of the day; stuff in excess doesn’t matter. It isn’t the house that you raise a family in that counts for worth: it’s the relationships and dynamics within that house that leave the largest imprint. And that isn’t something that can be defined by age alone.

The Autopilot Abyss

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I can feel myself slipping into the cracks of life on autopilot.
Not much thought, just intrinsic, remembered, methodical movements.
Because there doesn’t seem to be much space for free-thought or spontaneity. It’s all pre-planned, understood, known, familiar.

The essence of life and it’s ebbs and flows seems to be lost on me during this time.
It’s a rhythm of survival and at the end of each day we fall into bed in a heap with an exhausted sigh, only to get up the next morning early and dance the same dance.

Thankfully we’ll be shaken from our monotony soon,
and sure we will probably struggle and falter a little as we get familiar with our new bearings;
But hopefully we’ll be able to relax and flow a little in the space we have where life isn’t so defined and pre-determined,
a place where we can mix it up and shake the cobwebs off.

It really is all about finding that elusive balance, isn’t it?

 

 

My Impassioned Plea To Concerned Parents:

 

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I’m directing this post to the parents of children who are concerned that their children may have some quirks and after research are thinking they may be autistic…. but are hesitant to get them assessed and diagnosed for fear of what possible effect having a label on their child’s behaviour may have on their lives. To parents who love their children and are concerned and worried, and are feeling overwhelmed and a little lost.

So let’s break it down.

  1. It’s totally normal to feel grief over your child not being “normal”
    Every parent wants their children to develop alongside their peers, and achieve the same milestones at the developmentally appropriate time. It’s no parents choice to have a child who stands out; struggles with daily life function or needs extra support just to function. It’s okay to feel sad. Going through the stages of the grief cycle is normal when it comes to having your perception of reality changed. But please don’t let this be the reason you don’t seek further help.
  2. Your child probably already knows they’re different to their peers.
    Even from a young age children are perceptive and incredibly bright little creatures and pick up differences in how they may operate in comparison to their peers.They may note that they get affected by certain things but their friends don’t. Having a diagnosis gives a child a sense of identity and awareness of self. It gives them tangible reasons to understand their behaviour and preferences. It removes blame – they’re not acting this way by choice or for attention, it’s simply because their brains work a little differently.
  3. Don’t keep waiting; hoping they’ll “grow out of it” – act now.
    If you are noticing deficits in your child’s behaviour or you’re able to identify several little quirks that they have but you’re hoping they’ll just magically grow out of it, please just be brave and seek help. When it comes to autism specifically; the sooner a diagnosis can be made the sooner help can be given – and the earlier this support is accessed, the better off the child is. Children before the age of 6 are at the stage where their brain is the most “plastic” and “mouldable” – which is why early intervention like Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy & Psychological help is the most effective at this juncture. It is incredible what a difference early diagnosis can make not only to the child’s life but also to the family unit. So please don’t put your head in the sand hoping this stuff will go away. It might – but it likely won’t. Don’t miss the window for best assistance.
  4. Labels are life.
    So you’re scared of your child being pigeon-holed into a box, yeah? You don’t want them to be limited on their chances in life? I hear you. Except labels are everywhere in life: noisy, loud, slow, small, big, annoying, quiet, shy, aggressive, anxious, extrovert, introvert. Labels describe a behaviour, not a person. They can also be incredibly freeing and liberating to a child because they may be the pathway to support and understanding from their community. Sure – there may be judgement. But ignorance is everywhere and it’s unavoidable. Don’t let it be the reason you don’t seek further assistance for your child at the most crucial and beneficial time.
  5. What does it change?
    It’s likely your child has been the way they are since birth, and you’ve loved them this way and you will continue to. Having a diagnosis label attached to them isn’t going to magically alter their personality or change who they are. Personalities don’t suddenly change when behaviour or struggles get a label attached to them. In actual fact; the contrary happens: their understanding of self and others understanding of them broadens and stretches. Your child is always going to be your child. The things you love about them won’t go away when they’re diagnosed. But the things you struggle with; well, you may find a light suddenly goes on in an otherwise darkened room; or a sense of direction is given when you’re feeling directionless.
  6. Look at the big picture.
    If you don’t think that seeking a diagnosis is going to benefit your child now; can you take a look into the future? It’s really hard to tell what may present as possible hurdles to your child in as little as weeks, months or even years. Accessing support as soon as possible means your child benefits from learning coping strategies, techniques, skills and tools that they can then put into place for years to come. What might look like some few minor issues now can quickly develop into more complex issues down the track; and it’s not something you can really predict. It’s better to be on board and informed as soon as you can; to support your child and their future development.

It’s totally understandable to be confused and a little fearful of an uncertain road. But you’re not walking it alone – many parents have done so before, and there is a great amount of support out there available to you. So coming from one parent who wishes with all her might that she had deliberated less and acted sooner I ask you: be brave for your child. It’s okay. It will get easier, I promise. Just take the first step.

 

 

 

Special Needs, Siblings & The Guilt.

 

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Something that every parent of a child or children with special needs battles with on a daily basis is the guilt they experience over the other children in their family who don’t have special needs – and how their lives may be lacking or at detriment because of their higher needs siblings.

And yeah I can sugar-coat it all I like by saying that their lives are richer because of it and having siblings with special needs has made them more tolerant compassionate individuals – and whilst this is true, it doesn’t erase the pain or the guilt. It doesn’t stop you questioning if their lives would be easier for them without having this element to them; or if you’re doing them permanent damage by making them deal with the stuff they have to on a daily basis.

Do they realise they’re just as loved? Will they grow up to hate their siblings? Are we giving them enough room to grow to become their own people? Will they grow up with positive memories or only negative ones filled with resentment? Are we celebrating their achievements and accomplishments enough? Are we giving them enough unconditional love and support even if it’s only in fragmented bursts?

Holy moly it’s exhausting. And hard. The amount of effort it takes to making sure everyone’s needs are being met is overwhelming: all the children’s needs and also mine as an individual person as well as my husbands and ours together as a couple, too

Getting out of the door is an exercise that takes half an hour once you account for all the sensory stuff that comes up and anxieties that flare up upon leaving.

Growing up really becomes battle of survival some days. There literally is no time in the day that is spare to lavish attention on the siblings without special needs; other than a quick kiss at bedtime. Some days are spent literally being pulled in several directions all at once and it’s loud and it’s full on and it’s intense.

Why should a child develop the tolerance to listen to their siblings melting down for hours upon hours in the evening and not complain? Why should a sibling have the compassion to be nonjudgmental when their sibling is violently thrashing themselves around? How can this be so?

If I am the mother and even my tolerance and patience levels are tested; what does this mean for my other children?

The guilt is real. The guilt is palpable. It doesn’t go away.

The squeaky wheel may get the oil and this may be true but it doesn’t erase the importance that the other children play in our family unit. They’re the sounding board. They’re the constant in the sea of unpredictable. They’re the reliable; the unconditional. They’re the measuring stick against typical developing behavior when it’s been so long since your family life was normal that you’re not sure what that even means anymore.

So do we as parents probably let them get away with more than they ought? Yeah, you bet-cha. Because we feel their pain; and we understand it. We feel bad that they have to be so patient and tolerant. We feel bad because it’s hard for adults and the children with the special needs; so it would be even trickier some days to be involved purely by association. Their anger is justified, so is their cry for attention. They’ve earned the right to feel and express their likely resentment and frustration.

It’s not all bad. But some days it really is just one shit-storm after the other. One grapple for some semblance of peace after the other. There’s minimal respite and reprieve and when there is you’re stuck just waiting for it all to blow up again.

I guess at the end of the day all we as parents can hope is that the siblings of our special needs children get molded into extra beautiful, tolerant people as they grow older. Not much will shock them, and they’ll have developed resiliency that will hopefully propel them through other challenges they may encounter in life as it goes on for them; outside the family unit. Hopefully they’ll see just how hard their parents fought to help their siblings as well as carve out some space for them too that they won’t be forever holding a grudge, or at all.

Hopefully, just hopefully – out beautiful children who have special needs siblings – will know that they are so very very loved; even amidst all the chaos.

And I think that’s the main thing we can hope for; isn’t it?

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