Over the years, since becoming a ‘special needs’ parent, I’ve learned that I must choose coping mechanisms. I can spend my days feeling hard done by and resent the myriad of challenges that my son faces on a daily basis. Constantly reminding myself to celebrate each mini-milestone while frantically searching the internet for ‘strategies’ and therapies and neurological experts who might come up with a cure for his brain damage.
Or I can choose to accept. I can’t control this and I can’t fix it. I can’t undo it. But I can choose how I respond to it.
I am slowly but surely learning that self care is vital. That I can’t care for the children if I am broken and exhausted. I have to schedule ‘me time’ in my to-do list. Down time. My list needs to tell me its time to sit down, wrap myself in a blanket and do nothing.
And yes most of us do have to add self-care to our to-do lists! It doesn’t come naturally and we have to work at it. I need the motivational quotes, the gratitude journal, daily warrior pose to remind me I can be strong, feel strong (warrior pose is great for this – I highly recommend if like me, you don’t have time or energy for a regular yoga practice. Just stand in warrior ll for a few mins each morning before you face the world!).
And write about it – getting it all down on paper can be very cathartic. I’ve been needing to write this blog for a LONG time!
Also never underestimate the importance of talking about it. Connecting with other parents in a similar boat is absolutely vital to my sanity – it’s such a relief to talk to others who understand. And nobody is going to mind if you burst into tears. Nobody is talking about diets or ballet / piano lessons, it’s real, it’s raw and it’s mutually therapeutic. Other special needs parents just get it – It’s truly a safe place to vent.
These women know how it feels when your child literally draws a crowd when they have a meltdown in the supermarket, when you’re up to your elbows in poo and have run out of over sized pull ups / pads. When you’re so isolated because you can’t take your child to the shops, out to eat, to the cinema etc. When you have to cancel your day / whole week because you’re too exhausted to face the world. Other SEN parents know. They are the people to make connections with (and to schedule spa dates with if you can get away for a few hours!)
My heroes in this life are almost all other SEN parents, facing unimaginable challenges as they so gracefully and selflessly guide their vulnerable children through the SEN minefield of exclusions and rejections all the time walking the special needs tightrope and managing to balance perfectly.
These women humble me and centre me.
I would love to hear from you if any of this resonates with you. Feel free to comment below or say hi on Facebook. And thanks for reading. Stay stoic!