Have you ever been so tired, you just can’t think straight. Not physically tired, that just comes with the fun of getting older. I’m talking about the mental aspect, where you don’t know why you walked into a room? The tired that you accidentally put the car keys in the fridge or you can’t find your sunglasses that have been on your head while you look for them for 30 minutes? This has been my brain for almost three years. It is HARD for sure! Let me explain the struggles of a special needs mom.
This is not your usual hot mess mom here! Most days I have it all together when it comes to certain aspects. The only time I feel that I am actually normal is when I am at work. Where I can just focus on my craft and not worry about everything surrounding me.
Let me explain to you the struggle of being a special needs mom. It is just plain exhausting being a MOM in general. This is not to put other parents on a lower scale. I really try not to compare. It’s a different kind of hard being the mother of a child who has special needs.
What my friends and family do not see, is the constant battle internally and externally. The battle of “am I doing enough for his special needs ”? “Am I a good mother and how do I navigate through his Autism”, “how do I handle this new Autistic behavior”? I worry all the time if he will ever talk or walk/run normally like other three-year-olds. Sometimes, I selfishly take him to the park when no one is around, because I may just cry. I may cry when I see a three-year-old having full conversations with their parents and friends or see them climb up a jungle gym. All things my beautiful Autistic son can’t do. This is only one aspect of the struggle of a special needs mom.
Then the external battle outside my head is advocating for him all the time. Whether it’s at a school, doctor’s appointments, therapy, future programs or even in my own home. Having to parent in a way that is right for his Autism and that my husband and I can agree on, due to this diagnosis. It’s exhausting, to say the least!
The struggle of a special needs mom means that my general anxiety is at its peak. Somehow, I am supposed to take care of everyone and everything, including myself. Yet, I don’t have the mental capacity to do so. I see a great therapist, but I know I will always need to continue working on the balance of it all. It starts to add up with work, all of the needed therapies, sensory integration, my marriage, friendships and constantly trying to find this new normal. Maybe, I think too much in the future. This is all my brain tends to focus on for the last few years.
I Can Only Hope
I hope that my son knows I love him and that I try with every cell in my body to provide for him, everything that he needs to have a chance. A chance at being the best he can be, a chance at talking and having a life where he can be independent. I know things will never be at a normal level and I had to learn to be okay with this. I struggle sometimes, to connect in general with my son and others. A part of me, I fear has faded away. I have turned into this machine of protecting him and sometimes I shut others out. In advance, I am sorry!
I Am Sorry
To my friends who ask me to do things and I say no, just know it is nothing personal. I have been having a hard time adjusting to my new normal of Autistic meltdowns, structured schedules of eating and naps, behavioral frustration from not being able to communicate and the throwing of almost anything for sensory output. I do get embarrassed and a part of me can’t handle it. A part of me breaks down, even though I know I am strong enough to handle it. I know these people understand and love me. I just sometimes can’t climb that mountain and I am sorry.
The biggest thing a special needs mom needs is SUPPORT! Support from her spouse, support from other special needs parents, support from her friends and family. We may say we are okay, but we probably had a very rough day.
You Got This
I have never known strength until I had to push harder and harder for my Aiden even when I had nothing left in me. There is no way I can give up and I will always keep advocating. I will always have a challenge and I know this is what life is about. I am so proud of the obstacles he has already overcome. The little wins we celebrate and this is now, what I live for.
To the special needs parents out there that may be reading this. You are not alone! I feel your pain, your worry, your love for your child. You are the right person for this job. Although it is difficult, there is a reason you were assigned to it.
The struggle of a special needs mom is one that will never end. My child may not be able to live an independent life and this is heartbreaking. I pray every day for him and I pray for other families going through the same struggles and challenges.
I have learned one phrase that I can share.
Do the best you can every day and every day will be your best!
Here are some useful resources for those that may be looking for more information on Autism and related disabilities. There are also great support groups on Facebook that are in the surrounding Tampa Bay Area.