Wednesday, 13 November 2013
No parent's journey is the same. No parent has an easier time or harder time of it than any other.
Just as all our children are unique, all parents are unique as well.
I often hear parent's of special needs kids ask for special treatment, from friends, the government, schools. Regardless of what exactly makes their child different from the others around them, be it Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome or anything else, everyone always wants to point out how HARD it is for them as a parent and how EASY it is for the parents who don't have to struggle every day with meltdowns and changing the nappy on their 15 year old.
It's not easy for any parent. Not the parent with one perfectly healthy child, not the parent with 3 down syndrome children, not the mother to a stillborn, not the mother to the aborted or the miscarried. You're all parents, trying to do the best you can.
Everyone has struggles. No one's experience is the same.
Your child may have struggles now with meltdowns, and they may have them their whole lives. But you know, some adults are only now getting the diagnosis and help your children have had since they were small. Imagine how THEIR parents must have felt. They didn't have "oh it's Aspergers" to fall back on, as far as society was concerned, their child was a terror and they were bad parents.
You might complain that people looked at you askew in the shopping centre because your child had a meltdown, or wandered off. And people you know rally to your defense saying that they understand, your child is different, they're special needs, it's ok.
Parents from past generations, and even now in some parts of the world, don't have that. All they have is society telling them that they have failed at the most important task they have ever undertaken, being a parent.
At least you have it easier than them.
You may have to pay out extra money for that wheelchair, or those surgeries, or treatments or therapists. But at least you CAN get that wheelchair, and the surgeries and treatments and therapists. We have Social Security or Centrelink or Disability payments to help you, we have free services all around with volunteers to give you help and advice. A lot of places around the world don't have that. A lot of children needlessly die each year, because they don't get the treatment they need.
At least you have it easier than them.
Now stop pitying yourself for being stuck with the lifetime of misery and financial burden that is your special needs child, and think about how amazing it is that your child can still laugh and love and breathe. There are so many parents in the world who'd give ANYTHING to have their child breathe, once... again... still.
Being a parent is hard, when you have a special needs kid, we get it. But it's still wonderful and the best thing that can ever happen to you.
Being a parent is hard when you have a healthy, perfectly functioning child.
They have attitude and personality. They wander off in stores or at home or at school and you can't breathe until you find them again.
It's hard when your perfectly "normal" child decides to throw a tantrum in the middle of the store, or wanders off and gets lost and everyone looks at you askew, like you're a bad parent. And it's not like you have the excuse of "oh he's autistic", that would be too easy, no your child has their own personality and wants and is very loudly expressing them as he flails and kicks on the supermarket floor or runs off to inspect that toy you passed. And all you feel is that you must have gone wrong somewhere, you're a failure parent. I mean, it's SO easy because your child is 'normal', why can't you do it?
And you're at the end of your rope and the kids are driving you insane and an old lady tells you, "enjoy it while you can" and you scoff to yourself, and complain to your friends.
It's hard when as a parent, all you want to do is enjoy your time with your kids, special needs or not, and all you see around you is bills, and work and cleaning and cooking and they're fighting or they're screaming or they're hiding or they're shaving the dog or they're pouring soap on the floor or they're painting the walls with their nappy or they're throwing their food on the floor or they're jumping on their beds or or or or...
And suddenly they're gone.
They've grown up and moved out, you could finally afford that care facility, or they're just gone...RIP Angels...
And you wonder, where did the time go? And you turn into one of those old ladies in the supermarket that you used to hate. Who looked at you askew for getting upset at your child having a tantrum.
You remember when that was YOUR child, and you miss their little quirks and personalities, and you wish you'd just lightened up and bought them that toy.
And you turn into one of those old ladies, who you complained about quietly to your friends, who tells you to slow down, to enjoy it while you can.
It's hard when you're a parent, and you have to let go of your baby, when they move out, or move on. And you no longer have the best, most important part of your life around anymore.
We get it, us parents. We GET that it's hard. And all our kids are special.
Stop judging each other as we all try our best to do the best thing by the best part of our lives.
Being a parent is the hardest, most expensive, most frustrating blessing you can have in life. Cherish it, because it's gone too fast.
As a parent of 'normal' children, meaning that my kids don't have a solid diagnosis, Miss 7 has a potential ADHD diagnosis, a potential PTSD diagnosis, and has affection issues. Miss 4 has apparently an issue with how her brain works that means she can't learn to talk the same way everyone else does.
But without a diagnosis that society will forever define them by, we get no extra assistance.
It's hard. It's VERY hard. I have days where I don't get out of bed because it's so overwhelming for me.
I'm not saying that it's worse for me. I'm not saying that it's better for you.
I'm just saying that until parents start seeing their children, it's never going to get easier.. Until parents stop caring about the diagnosis.
In the eyes of the public, when my kids misbehave, I'm a bad parent. In the eyes of those who know me, we're coping very well with Miss 7's PTSD or ADHD or w/e.
But until parents can look at each other with understanding and offer assistance, instead of playing their kids against each other in some twisted version of "my kid is smarter/sicker/harder to love than your kid", then society is always going to see what it wants to see.