This past month, I reached out to my mom friends and asked, “What would be meaningful for you to see online? What kind of article would you actually click on?” The responses were so aligned, I thought they might be together in the same room somewhere. “The pressure to do all the things.” “Loneliness.” “Getting frustrated trying to fit a parenting ideal.” “Deescalating strategies.” “Being authentic.” And crafts. We all love the nature crafts!
The thing that these friends and I have in common is that we all have unconventional parenting journeys. Neurodiversities like autism, PDA, ADHD, anxiety, extreme eating issues, and other developmental needs weave through our family stories. And, while all parenting can sometimes feel like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, parenting kids with special needs can feel more like being blindfolded, hogtied, and then thrown over the falls. We can feel helpless, without a clear path forward.
This is not the part where I tell you the things that will make this all better. (Sorry, maybe the next article.) This is the one where I just say “I see you.”
When you feel invisible, except for the stares you get.
When you’re on endless calls to find resources.
When date nights are hard to come by, but miscommunications are not.
When milestones and accomplishments of others fill your feed and feel like an alternate reality.
When you’re reading the books, trying the strategies, taking the online classes, and crying into your pillow from exhaustion.
When you see a sweet win within your child, but you have few people to share with who would “get it.”
I see you. There are a lot of us. And every season won’t feel like the hardest ones. Not for us, and not for our amazing kids! But when things are very, very hard it’s so important to know:
We’re not alone.
We can be real.
Being who we need to be for our families is the true ideal.
Ok, before I end maybe I will share something that helps right now (there are, after all, great things out there!). Portland’s own Eileen Devine offers an amazing free 14 day journal for parents on this path. For me, this journal was like coming up for air in the midst of my “Niagara” experience. Her work told me then, as I’m telling you now, “You are seen.” And what’s more, it helped me to “see” my child. And today, we’re seeing better days.
Now… onto some homemade seed bombs and mud pies.