This is a hard post for me to write. But, I think I'll find freedom in sharing it with you. My life is good. Really good. I have three amazing kids and a husband who loves me more than I'll ever know. We live in a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood and are all happy and healthy. I'm in my seventh year of being a stay-at-home mom and have settled in nicely to my role. But, there is something I struggle with day in and day out...my words.
Sometimes, when my son is having an especially hard day and he can't quite help himself with all of the stimming he's got going on - I find myself short, rude and impatient. I say things before thinking. I give him weird looks without realizing the effect they will have on him. I yell when I should be taking a "time out" for myself to collect my thoughts. It's not until the dust settles that I realize just how awful I've been. Often, it's too late. My apologies are accepted and we've both gone on to other tasks but I can see it on his face. I can see the scars I've left and am still making all over his sweet soul.
I spend the rest of the day beating myself up about the way I've just behaved and beg for mercy that he'll give me another chance to be the right kind of mom. I pour myself into parenting books and cater to his every need in the hopes that I will change my ways the next time. I talk to him all the time about bullies at school but inside I'm thinking, "I'm the real bully."
Not all days are like this. We have really good days, mediocre days and terrible days. It's only on the unbearable days that I let my words flow out of me like poison. Why is it so hard to be a parent to a child with special needs? Because not every day is the same. What worked today won't work tomorrow. Because I want my child to be happy and to not have to have special circumstances that call for stress balls, rice buckets or medication. I want him to be free of worry and doubt. I want him to relish in the innocence that is childhood.
So when I see one of his friends being mean to him after I've just yelled at him - it's all I can do not to curl up into a ball and just roll away. I have to make this life a better place for him I think. And so, I tell myself that I will do better tomorrow and I do.
I promised to keep this website real, and to share the things that have worked for me...so here are a few tips that have helped.
1. Take a breath. A big one.
2. Tell yourself he's only 6 (or 4 or 5 or whatever age your child is)
3. Pre-plan what you're going to say. Meaning - if you think your interaction could go south - think about what you'll say or won't say to avoid mean words spewing out.
4. Take a time out for yourself. Tell your child you need a minute and you'll be right back. (Obviously, only leave your child alone if they are old enough).
5. Keep reciting the good things about your child in your head. This will help you stay positive.
6. Give yourself grace. No really. Do it. This is something I have to continually work on. I can say it but I don't always do it. Parenting a child with special needs is so hard. Harder than anyone will ever (truly) tell you. You're doing the best you can. Today is done. Tomorrow is a new day.
Thanks for letting me be real.