What I Wish You Knew About Special Needs Parenting
I wish you knew how unrelenting special needs parenting can be.
To be fair, I sometimes don’t realise how much constant pressure I’m under. I’m too busy most days, trying to keep afloat, to analyse my situation in any great detail.
It’s not until that pressure is lifted for a moment, that I truly appreciate the chance to breathe. That’s when I realise all the visible and invisible things I do, worry about, plan for, organise, mitigate, stress about and manage.
That’s when I realise just how hard it can be to be a special needs parent.
So, it’s no surprise that you wouldn’t understand. I shouldn’t really blame you for not seeing past my careful facade of coping and recognising the overwhelming stress I face.
Because I’m often blind to it too.
I wish you knew how I miss our friendship.
I know I keep turning down your invitations. I know it’s not fair that you are trying to keep things going but I can’t reciprocate.
I know you think I don’t care.
But I do. I wish with all my heart that I could drop everything and hang out, like we used to. I miss laughing at the small things. I miss talking about the big things. I miss catching up just because we can.
I miss sharing the load. I miss talking about frivolous. non-special needs topics. I miss you.
However, I can’t be that same friend anymore. My family needs me and my responsibilities, focus and priorities have changed. It’s not possible for me to drop everything and hang out anymore.
Maybe, I’ll be more responsive and dependable one day. I certainly want to keep trying. I just can’t do all that much now.
So, please don’t give up on me or our friendship.
I wish you knew how guilty I feel for my family.
Caring for a child with special needs takes a lot of time, energy, emotion and focus.
Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could spend more quality time with my husband and my other children.
I know I spend more time with my special needs child than I do with them. I’m very conscious of the inequality of attention.
I know there is nothing I can do about it. I know none of this is my fault. I know I’m doing the best I can.
Yet, I still can’t help feeling guilty.
I wish our rare quality time wasn’t interrupted by my caring responsibilities.
I wish I could be more present when I’m with them, instead of constantly keeping a mental check of what I need to do next.
I wish I didn’t feel guilty about the prospect of leaving them with caring responsibilities in the future.
I just wish I could let go of the guilt altogether.
I wish you knew all the amazing things my child can do.
I know it’s hard to see past the obvious differences. These are the reasons they received a formal diagnosis, after all.
Their challenges, and all the things they can’t do, are often the first things you notice.
I know and I understand.
But, please, don’t dismiss all the many things they can do while silently judging them on all the things they can’t.
Take the time to watch, listen and learn from them. Appreciate the different knowledge, point of view and energy they bring.
Acknowledge just how special, unique and amazing they really are.
Give them the chance to show what they can actually do, rather than focus on the things you think they can’t.
I wish you knew I’d welcome the opportunity to talk to you about my experiences.
It can be awkward knowing what to say, when you see me in the supermarket, juggling three kids, shopping and a sensory meltdown.
You can only imagine how difficult it is for me to be living it.
I know your first instinct is to quickly look away. You might be unable to suppress that initial spark of silent judgement. It’s human nature to feel uncomfortable when faced with confronting situations.
However, a nod of understanding, an encouraging smile and some silent compassion would go a long way to helping me through the situation.
Moreover, asking if I’m okay and taking the time to listen to my response, would also be a great way to show support.
I may not always want to share my experiences with you (it’s more than likely been a tough day already!).
But, I’d rather you show interest, understanding and support than turn your back in silent judgement of my kids’ behaviour or my parenting skills.
There are so many things I wish you knew about special needs parenting. These are just the start.
This post is part of a Parenting a Child with Special Needs blog hop where myself and other special needs bloggers share our thoughts on a set theme each month. This month’s theme is “what I wish you knew.” I’d love for you to check out all the other posts linked up for this month!
26 Things Every Special Needs Mom Needs to Know | Natural Beach Living
What You Don’t Know President Trump | Every Star is Different
5 Things I Wish Teachers Knew About My Child’s Anxiety | STEAM Powered Family
What I Wish You Knew About Special Needs Parenting | My Home Truths
What I Wish You Knew About Being the Parent of a Child with RAD | The Chaos and The Clutter
What You Need To Know, Betsy Devos | This Outnumbered Mama
50 Things SPD Parents Secretly Wish They Could Say Their Families | Lemon Lime Adventures