4 Truths I Have Learned As a Special Needs Mom

You will go through a plethora of emotions after the diagnosis and that is ok.

After both of my boys were diagnosed I was thrown into a series of emotions that I had only previously experienced a handful of times during my life. I sat in the car reading over the summary that had been given to me. This was my explanation and yet I found myself researching terms I already knew, going over the everything that I had explained to the doctor and wondering if there was some way that I had missed something. Had I explained something wrong? Maybe if I had construed the meltdowns, lack of attention or behavior issues in a different way, would the diagnosis be different? Yes, there was a genetic component, but how much could THAT really effect? Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this parenting gig? I was so focused on giving my children a childhood that did not resemble my own, maybe I turned the wrong way?

I then began to bargain. What if I completely reconstructed their diets? Sure, we eat fairly healthy at our house, a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats; but I could do more. I could cut out anything artificial, move them towards an organic and health conscious diet. I mean what 4 year old doesn’t love quinoa or kale?! We could go off the grid and really get back to nature. Who needs Netflix and educational based programming when they could play out in the sunshine?

The anger came out of nowhere. A primal rage that to this day seems almost foreign to me. I had done everything right, everything that I was supposed to do. If pregnancy and baby raising was a checklist, I had marked every box in only a way that an inexperienced yet overly detail orientated new mom can do. I ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly, forced down vitamins and Omega 3’s like they were going out of style. I made every appointment and had fairly easy and very healthy pregnancies. My boys were born healthy and happy and grew into affectionate chubby babies who hit every milestone, until they hit around 2  years old. Then they started to struggle more in some aspects than some of the other children we had known, I chalked it up to me still trying to figure out this whole “raising another human being” thing. It wasn’t until my oldest was 6 did I find out that his struggles had nothing to do with me. This was all due to genetics and without a tangible scapegoat that I could place blame on, myself included, I was angry and bitter at the world. This was not caused by my shortcomings nor that of someone else and therefore I could not “fix” this.

Well meaning advice. Shitty comments and judgements. You will experience all of them all in excess.

” God only gives special children to special parents.” ” There is nothing “wrong” with your kids.”  ” Have you tried paying attention to them instead of just medicating them?” I have heard all of these and more from family and strangers alike.

Personal beliefs aside, I do not believe that God gives “special children to special parents”.  Although I know that comment is meant to be uplifting, it fills me with momma bear rage. Why would God choose to have my child struggle? What has he done to be suited with that kind of punishment? What have I done to helplessly watch my child struggle through life without knowing how to help them? That is not the type of deity I have knowledge of. I smile and bite back my nasty retort and make a note to ask for advice elsewhere.

When explaining their diagnoses to people in their life I have received the response that there is nothing “wrong” with them with a vibrant type of shock. They damn near jump back in protest. Yes. There is nothing wrong with either one of them. Mainly because having ADHD, speech delays, fine motor delays and sensory issues doesn’t qualify as wrong. They are a diagnosis. Plain and simple. A medical note that allows them to get the type of therapies they need. And while ADHD is considered an invisible special need, one where on the outside it doesn’t look as though anything is different, it is a special need nonetheless. All that means is that my little ones require a little extra help in some aspects in life and that is ok.

Insisting that I haven’t tried every other avenue to help my kid other than just medicating him makes me roll my eyes so hard. Medication was the last resort for Aiden. I had tried everything else: sports, yoga, meditation, diet changes, different discipline/reward routines, essential oils. You name it, I did it. And yet he still had a significantly hard time in school. He spent more time in the principals office than in the classroom, he was falling behind in his work and homework took us easily 3 hours a night. I can’t discipline the ADHD out of my kid anymore than I can ask my other child with a speech delay to just speak more clearly. I spend most every waking moment with my little ones, constantly worrying if I am doing the right thing. Like most parents, hoping against hope that they don’t turn out unbelievably fucked up. Believe me, nothing is due to a lack of attention. We just take one day at a time at our house.

Time management becomes an Olympic event.

I joke that I will end up being 5 minutes late to my own funeral. It all started in good fun, but now I whole heartily believe this to be a fact. It doesn’t matter if I start getting kids and I ready 2 hours in advance, there is always some reason as to why we stumble in a tad late to some places. We have good days and bad. On our good days, we are a well oiled machine. There are no meltdowns nor observations that require the most detailed attention. On those days I believe we can do anything. Last Wednesday was a bad day. Blake had his weekly speech therapy appointment so I started our day out 2 hours ahead of time. Breakfast was eaten at a snail pace. Life observations and philosophical questions were asked by Aiden. 8 am is much too early to talk about the meaning of life and asking to research when coffee hasn’t brewed yet. 4 outfit changes later, due to scratchy tags or deciding on a different color shirt, I believed were ready. Pack the car and come inside to find Blake without clothes for the 5th time that morning and 15 minutes to get to our appointment in a town 10 minutes away. Needless to say we roll in breathless and apologetic to the therapists office with 30 seconds to spare. That is a Wednesday at our house.

You will eventually rally

After the initial shock of the diagnosis wears off and every emotion has been carefully sorted through, that is when you will rally. How long this process takes is different for everyone. There are some days where I am a research machine. Pinteresting different educational techniques to help with speech and fine motor delays. Making appointments for different doctors and therapies. Researching calming techniques and reading up on medical journals. On those days I feel like I have a handle on it and everything goes according to plan. Then there are other days where I have no fucking idea what I’m doing or what the next step is. These are those days where I pull every ounce of patience into my system and bring my tribe together. My tribe is made up of friends, family and therapists that I can turn to when I don’t know what the next answer is. These wonderful humans have been there through every turn. Listening to every rant, helping with homework, assisting in helping calm down Blake if he has a particularly bad day; all with no judgements or snide comments. There is no explanation or apology needed, they understand. And that can be all that is needed to help me get through another day.

If being a special needs mom has taught me anything it is this: love will get you through it all. I have more love for these little humans than I ever thought to be humanly possible. Whether it is pulling into wells of patience that I never knew existed right at my breaking point or fighting like hell to keep my son with his class next year instead of the school shipping him off somewhere else. It all comes from love. I may not have special needs nor understand what kind of struggles they will have to encounter now or in the future. My language is colorful to say the least. I have my own set of deep seeded issues and use humor and good food as a way to deflect my own shortcomings. I may not have the patience I wish I had nor the answers to the questions that may come. But I love my kids. And at the end of the day I will love them through whatever comes our way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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