Last week I met up with one of my “special needs friends” for coffee. I share a special bond with this friend.
I love catching up with her and I know she feels the same way. The only issue is we are unable to catch up enough.
It must be the way either party can say anything and know the other has totally got it. They know where you are coming from and it doesn’t matter what you say.
It’s really comforting to be on the same level as my friend. We were chatting about things that would have left us feeling down and out years ago. Stuff that now we are able to easily accept and even chuckle about.
It made me think, I wish someone was there in the early days, to stop me from worrying about things I couldn’t change.
So here is my top 10 for new special needs parents:
- Stop asking, “why me” – Why not you or me or Joe Blow? This is life as we know it. Life will serve you crap and sunshine, sometimes in the same day. This is what you have been served, it’s all yours. You will choose to love it or hate it and with that comes the consequences. Hating it will drain you and eventually you will break. Loving it will give you more than I can ever tell you or you could imagine.
- Stop comparing – You will find yourself comparing your child with other children. You will want to know the milestones. You will check your blue book and other baby books. You will worry about the fact that your child is not speaking or walking at the expected age. You will cry when they reach the “walking” age because they still haven’t taken their first step. You should know now, those things most likely won’t happen at the expected time. When you stop worrying about them, you will notice other things happen and they will be worth their weight in gold.
- Your heart will be broken – Actually smashed into tiny pieces and you will feel like it will never mend. The heartbreak I felt when Billy was born actually gave me physical pain. I was broken and completely defeated. You will feel this too. You will want to run. You will want to scream. You have every right to feel that way, but don’t stay there for too long as you also have a child that has the power to mend your broken heart, PERFECTLY.Laugh often – Laugh at everything. This is one of the most powerful weapons you will have to get you through the hard days. Be silly, embrace the differences with laughter and craziness. The silliness will keep you going. At the end of the day, laughing is better than crying which will give you nothing but big black bags under your eyes.
- Enjoy your child – There will be times for doctors appointments, hospital stays and assessments. For the rest of the time, be your child’s mum. Enjoy your child, enjoy motherhood. Let your child be him or herself, special needs and all. They have many amazing gifts to share with the world and they are counting on you to see through the differences first.
- Don’t fool yourself into thinking it will get better easier or change – I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your life won’t be easy. You will have easier days but special needs parenting is just downright hard, emotionally and physically. Instead of waiting for it to get better, know one day it will get easier, not because things change but rather because the way you deal with things will change.
- You will feel hurt for your child often – whether it is a negative comment or piercing stares you will feel hurt for your child. You will feel guilty that your child is different and you will grieve for what your child will never experience. This will never change but keep one thing very close, your child will experience other joys that will make you just as happy and proud.
- You will lose touch with some friends – It is the cold hard truth, sometimes life takes you in different directions. You may find yourself spending time in places that are appropriate for your child and not for your friends. You will make new friends at these places. You will have a special bond with your new special needs friends. The non-special needs friends that remain close to you will prove to be priceless in your journey as they will keep you connected to the person underneath the label of mum, you.
- Exercise – even if it hurts like hell, exercise and stay healthy. Resisting that last piece of cake and exercising regularly will give you strength and energy. Believe me you are going to need both every day.
- Stay connected to who you are – For a while you will be associated with special needs. Your life will be packed away and you will feel as though you are in a foreign land. You will think of the old you as someone in the past, someone who you used to know (thank’s Gotye). Eventually, you will wonder what happened to her. You will miss her and the things she loved to do. Don’t give up on her because you will find her again. When you do, she will be even better than ever. She will have the same amazing qualities but will also naturally possess softness and strength beyond what you can imagine.
- Love – Love your child. You may wish he or he didn’t have this condition. You will want to fix it. You will want your child to be able to do what another child of the same age do. You may want to change your child to what society says is typical. Stop and love him or her for exactly how they are. No one is perfect and each of us have differences. Your child’s differences will show you love that is above and beyond anything you can imagine. You will soon see how lucky you are.
I could tell you so much more I wish I knew, but these ones are the first that came to mind. One thing I must say is, you will develop strength but don’t ever think you need to be strong all the time. You are a human being. If you need to cry then cry, if you need to scream, scream but always remember no matter what you will OKAY.
I would love to hear what you wish you knew when you first became a special needs parent. Share your insights by commenting below. As always thanks for sharing your stories