For the Hard Days


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

Woman on bed covering head

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.”

Woman with arm around womanI 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.


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Cheryl Quimba
Cheryl is a nearly 20 year Oregonian who grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. She learned to turn down the sarcasm dial, hike in the rain, and keep an IV drip of coffee at all times, making the PNW deeply home. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Pastoral Counseling and, in her pre-kid years, worked in substance abuse prevention, special needs tutoring, and as administrative support for the psychiatric care of at risk children. She and her husband, BJ, are two-time adoptive parents to Nora (8) and Evan (5). Together, they love discovering nature, mountains of library books, and endless hours of legos, art, and YouTube. A potent cocktail of pandemic school closure and a growing understanding of neurodivergent needs led Cheryl to educate their kids at home. She spends much of her time geeking out over resources for Child-Led Learning (Unschool, Self-Directed, Natural Learning -whatever your flavor!). Through NEST she has obtained certification in supporting individuals with the Pathological Demand Avoidance profile of the Autism Spectrum. She enjoys encouraging families in their journey as they seek to understand and love their children well. You can find her at, where she educates and supports in areas of OCD, PDA, Unschooling, and Open Adoption.