Those of you who know our family know our awesome middle boy, “Hulk”. Yep. Hulk. Just go with it folks. His kindergarten teacher did, for an entire month.
Every day we are learning new things from being his parents. Sometimes they’re wonderful things. Sometimes they’re not so wonderful.
A few days ago, my husband was running to the store to grab a few things and I received a text from him.
“I’m having a tough morning. Got pull-ups for Max and thought, ‘This sucks that he’s eight and still uses pull ups at night.’ Want to cry.”
His text and our conversation afterward got me thinking.
Our son was diagnosed with ADHD & Autism Spectrum Disorder about 3 years ago. I had been arguing with doctors for a few years at that point, telling them he had High Functioning Autism. I could tell something was different in the way he thought and perceived things. Most people ignored my comments and told us our son was fine, or that he wasn’t “Autistic Enough to get a diagnosis”. In other words, “We don’t want to be forced to give your child services.”. It was infuriating. Once we talked to the right people, I felt so much comfort. I could now move forward and help my son in the best ways possible.
I’m sure there are other parents out there who have similar struggles. I’m sure many of them are just beginning their journey and feel overwhelmed. So, I wanted to shed a little “light” on being a Special Needs parent.
10 Things I’ve Learned About Life From Being a Special Needs Mommy
- Never take a seemingly “good” day for granted. It can turn into a disaster in the time it takes someone to hand your child the wrong pencil. You’ve got to work to make your day great. Obstacles are thrown at you all day long. Overcome, move on, and find a way to make everyone smile again.
2. Things will break. Even bodies. A lot. I cannot tell you how many pairs of glasses we have been through. Or the amount of ouchies I have kissed. Hulk is completely unaware of his body and it’s location. “Oh, I’m sorry my son just stepped on your foot as he ran up the stairs!”. “Oh, my gosh! Did he break his brand new bike already?!”. Keep lots of bandages and ice on hand. Wounds heal. Things are just things.
3. Celebrate the little victories. Everything in life is worth celebrating. Did he read for 20 minutes without having a meltdown when you asked him to do it? SCORE! Did she play a game with a group and keep playing even though she was tagged “it”? PAR-TAY! Did your husband lose his job, but now he doesn’t have to commute over 3 hours a day? WAHOO! Find the joy in the small things, it’s always there if you look hard enough.
4. You will do anything to help your children. Even buy them a bear/dog. Thus, sentencing you to a life covered in dog fur and slobber. If it will make them happy and not turn them into juvenile delinquents, the smile will be worth it. A clean house is a secondary thing when it comes to your little people.
5. Cereal. Never. Ever. Run out. If it’s the wrong end of the pay period and you have to choose between bread and cereal, always pick cereal. Many meltdowns have begun in our house because someone ate the last of the cereal. Every time you go to the store, buy more. Even if you don’t need it. You do need it, you just don’t know it yet.
6. Clothing is just for covering the essentials. It doesn’t need to look adorable or “match”. This one is still painful for me. But, I can now shut my mouth and look the other way when he insists on wearing green from head to toe. Or the time he wore knee-high Hulk socks to school(Everyone thought he had an entire costume on underneath his clothes, it was pretty epic.), that one killed me. But, I did it! He walked right out the door in those dang socks without a second thought, and I kind of loved him even more for it. Let kids be themselves. Unless, of course, it makes them criminals (see number 4.).
7. Variety is the spice of life. Unless you have a special needs child. Then it is the enemy to order and initiates total chaos. If your child will only read books with dogs in them, carry-on son. Hop online and buy every dog book you can find, and pray that it is part of a series… At least they’re reading.
8. Strange is a relative term. You cannot compare apples to oranges and you cannot compare any child to another. Each child has their own unique code that makes them their awesome self. Don’t squash it. Teach them to cope with the realities of life, and then let them free to find their own way to accomplish it. If they want to be a tree so that birds will land on them; you go to the car, get a cracker, put it on their head, and tell them that they must be very quiet and stand very still. Help them be the best “Tree” they are capable of being.
9. You will worry about your other children. Do they know that you love them just as much? Do they harbor any resentment toward their sibling? Will they be kind toward others like their brother or sister? This has been a real struggle for me. Hulk takes a lot of energy. Sometimes there isn’t much left at the end of the day for the other two (three if you include Captain) who need me. The answer I have found is simple: Ask them. Help them understand the situation. Let them be part of the solution. Odds are, they would love to help you have more time for them. Keep the conversation open so they know they can always come to you if their feelings change.
10. When you think you cannot do it anymore, when you feel like being their parent is just too hard, your heart is breaking for the struggles they will face, and you have exhausted every ounce of patience you possess; you will keep going. Something deep inside of you will rise up and you will pick yourself up off of your knees (That’s usually the position I’m in during these moments.) and face their challenges head on. You will be there for them. Even when you feel like you’re not the right person for the job. You are the right person. You are THE PERSON. God gave that child to you for a reason.
Each of my children has helped shape and mold me into the person I am today. Sometimes I’m proud of that person, other times I know I can do better. But, I am becoming the exact person that each of my children need me to be. That, I am proud of.