I just read someone’s epiphany – their turning point when they changed their perspective in life. I’ve had a number of those and quite a few of them have centered around coping with the challenges of raising a child with special needs.
It’s very clear in my mind. I was standing washing dishes and talking to my mom. I felt distraught and discouraged. Laundry was piled on the couch. I was working through a mountain of pots and pans. I KNEW the floors needed swept, the beds needed made, the carpet needed vacuumed. And that didn’t count the car washing, garden weeding, and grocery store run.
I said to my mom “What am I doing wrong?” “Why does this all feel so hard?” “Other people get these things done!”
My mom replied “Other people don’t have a child with special needs.”
My mom tends to get to the heart of things quite simply. Somehow, hearing that from her helped me to forgive myself.
You see, I was the one who wasn’t going to let having kids slow me down. I was still going to go camping, backpacking even, and run all around town doing my business. What’s a kid or two thrown into the mix??? Just load them up and continue on.
That lasted until we were in the Sierra’s, miles from a hospital or even any other person, with my son coughing like a seal. Yep – it was croup. His dad was boiling water all night and passing it under the blanket to me where I was holding my son and trying to help him breath the steam.
I heard him quietly say – “Andrea – I can have us packed up and out of here in 30 minutes – Should we go home?” Don, who couldn’t yet talk, mind you – started chanting like ET “hooome” “hoooome!” I sighed and said, “let’s just give it a little longer. We can make it until daylight.”
That was our last trip into the wilderness. It was just too risky to be that far from hospitals and other help. Reality was quickly setting in.
Back to my mom and fastforward a couple more months. Me: “Mom – I feel like I can’t be a happy mom for my kids. How can I ever be happy when one of my children isn’t ok?”
Note that I was still in “Fix-it” mode. I wanted to make everything better for my boy. That is what parents do, right? There was no way to kiss this and make it better. I felt like I was failing my son and he was at risk because I couldn’t make cerebral palsy go away.
My mom, clearly and simply said, “but Andrea. He could have died.” Ok. Wake up call. Yes. I had plenty to be happy about.
I never had any problem what so ever with loads and loads of love for my children. I had quite a few more steps to take to get to totally accepting my son just the way he is, no need to fix, and appreciating his uniqueness. These were a few of the first steps. What a fantastic life lesson this became for me. It’s something I wish for all parents, and especially parents of children with special needs.