When I was pregnant with my first baby, I researched everything. I wanted to make all the right choices. I wanted to avoid anything that could put him at a disadvantage. I wanted to prepare as much as I possibly could, for his birth, for his babyhood, and beyond.
And when he was born, I realized pretty quickly that making parenting decisions based on a book, or even on other’s experiences was so very different than raising your own child. Don’t get me wrong, parenting advice books and hearing other’s stories are a good thing. There is a lot you have to learn before you have a baby.
But, when you have special needs kids, you kinda want to throw all those books out the window. You want to figure out what is best for your kid, and that might be hard to figure out. And it can be hard to relate to others during your parenting journey.
I first noticed something was going on with my oldest when he was about two. We had moved to Germany when he was 18 months old and found some friends with kids similar ages. But around two, I noticed something. These other kids were talking, and my son was not.
Something was up, I just knew it. Over the next year, we found out he had a developmental delay, especially in speech. These days, at 14, he is a different kid. But it took a lot to get there.
Fast forward a few years and his little brother is turning two and talking on schedule. I was so worried but he didn’t have the same delays his brother did. But then…when he was three we started to notice some other things.
He would get mad at other kids when they wanted to play with him.
He would get in trouble every day during Pre-K.
He would focus on one thing for a very long time.
He acted like we never told him no, that we let him do whatever he wanted. But we did tell him no, he was just on his own path.
When he was five, we discovered what was going on. He had Asperger’s. He had Autism. Now we knew better how to help him.
And we have. He is 12 now. He is going to be a teenager this year, and we have come so far.
And still I struggle.
When I am sitting with a group of moms and they talk about that kid at their child’s school and how awful he is.
When something that comes so easy to other children, even his brothers, is so hard to him.
When I want to push him to do more, but I am not sure I can handle the difficulties that might come with doing so.
There are so many times when I wish I could wave a magic wand so others could understand. This special needs mom life isn’t easy and can be so isolating. I have been hurt before and I hate feeling like I could be hurt again.
So to the other special needs moms out there…
I was also the mom that couldn’t find the right playgroup.
I was also the mom, and still am the mom, that isn’t sure how my child will handle another kid’s birthday party.
I am the mom that worries every day when he goes off to school, hoping and praying he has a good day.
While we have come so far with my son, we have so far to go. He will be bigger than me soon. He will start to look like a man. I worry about that.
How will we handle his first job? What if he wants to date? How will that go? And what about college?
All moms worry, we worry about everything, but us special needs moms might worry about things that others don’t think twice about.
So to the other special needs moms out there, I get it.
I know how hard to it to sign up for something like swim lessons, when you are not totally sure if the teacher will be able to handle your son.
I know that letting them go off to school is scary, and can be a fight, in order to make sure your kid is getting what they need.
I know that some days you just want to take your kids to an island, and allow them to just be themselves, no matter what that looks like.
So remember that you are not alone even if it feels like you are sometimes. You have a challenging kid, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make them less than. You have the ability to get through whatever current parenting challenge you are going through, and know that others have been through the same.
What is something that has really helped you as a special needs mom?