I was catching up on NBC’s Parenthood during my morning run (on treadmill) and I was brought to tears during a scene with the mother of special needs kids that hit way too close to home. Being the parent of special needs kids is different. I don’t like to use the word hard because raising kids is hard. But during the scene, the mother of a special needs child with Asperger’s is afraid to send him to regular school even though he is ready (according to the teachers at his current school.) She doesn’t want to go through the whole process of explaining to parents why her son doesn’t play sports or why he doesn’t go to sleep overs or why he wears the same shirt for weeks. She doesn’t want him bullied or picked on or have to freak out every time the phone rings during a school day (video is at the end of this post.)
It’s Not My Story to Tell
This is something I don’t talk about much on my blog. Not because I’m embarrassed, but because I’ve always felt this wasn’t my story to tell. I do have two kids who have would be considered “special needs” kids for various reasons. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty details because I’ve always felt that this was my kid’s story and if they don’t want it shared, that is ok. What I am going to share is a bit of my story.
As I watched the episode, I realized that recently I have been so hard on one of my kids because I am tired. I am tired of having to try to stay calm when all hell breaks loose. I’m tired of trying to keep the peace. I’m tired of having to sit down to get homework done every night. I’m tired of arguing. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m just plain tired. And because I feel that way, I feel guilty. It just sucks.
Parenting Special Needs Kids
That is what being the parent of special needs kids is like. You feel guilty because you can’t be on top of everything 100% of the time. You feel guilty because they got in trouble at school because you let your guard down. You feel guilty because they are falling behind because you don’t want to put your kid on medication. You feel guilty because you put your kid on medication and you swore you never would. You feel guilty because you have other kids who get the short end of the stick because all your energy goes into your special needs kids. And you even feel guilty because maybe it is your fault.
Then someone says, “I don’t know how you do it,” and I just want to scream. I DON’T!!!!
Don’t get me wrong! I love my kids more than anything. As I see my kids grow, it does get easier. I see the fruits of our labor and realize that all of it is definitely worth it. But that doesn’t help those moment where I just want to hide away.
Teachers Make A Difference
I’ve always felt particularly guilty because I don’t spend a lot of time in my special needs kids classrooms. I do communicate with the teacher and I very actively participate in setting up the IEP each year. But I don’t go into the classroom often and I felt guilty. I realized today the reason I don’t. I would spend the entire time explaining why my kid is doing what he is doing and then I would be angry with them and I would probably yell at them when they got home. Yes, I know that’s horrible. But it’s so hard not to do that.
By me letting my kids learn by trial and error and not having me in the middle, I feel like I am empowering them. I am trusting that without me there, they are going to be ok. I’m trusting that the teacher and school is going to do what they say they will and keep my child safe.
We have been so fortunate that we have schools and teachers who have taken very good care of my kids (all 4 of them.) I know that my kids would not be where they are if it weren’t for those teachers. So, if anyone ever says that the teachers don’t make a difference can come see my kids. Teachers CAN make a BIG difference.
This post ended up in a totally different place than I thought it would. I just felt this great urge to write about parenting special needs kids today.
Parenthood is Real
This episode of Parenthood also reminded me exactly why I love this show so much. It is real. I love the way they are dealing with being a parent of special needs kids. Almost every episode brings me to tears because I can relate to it in some way.
My kids do read my blog and kids, I want you to know that I wouldn’t trade you for anything. I love you just the way you are. Just like school is sometimes really hard…well so is parenting. But as my mom always says, “this too shall pass.”
Your thoughts about parenting special needs kids or just parenting?