Monday, March 11, 2013

How do I do this?

I get asked, or told, the well intentioned "How do you do it?" or "I don't know how you do it." a lot. It's a common refrain that special needs parents report hearing quite a bit. While I cannot speak for the rest of them, I can only answer for myself.

I just do it. My life can be like a Nike ad. I'm a parent and do what everyone else does, or should do. I do what is best for my children and try to do what is best for myself. Sometimes I fail on both accounts. My friends and I are probably not that different from our NT parent friends... well, maybe a bit.

I admit to not being perfect. I try to be, but I fail every single day. I say the wrong things to my kids and random strangers more often than I can count. I try to apologize, but sometimes I fail.

I cry, just like everyone else. Things are said and done which hurt. I try to reserve tears for behind closed doors, but sometimes emotions leak out in supermarkets and the car. I'm human. The first time I ever saw my son tie his shoes was a big deal and I cried. I used to not be this way. I used to see crying as a weakness. God, I was wrong.

I laugh, a lot. I laugh at things like those cat memes, ecards, sarcastic humor, and probably a lot of the things most other people do or don't. I love to hang out with people who make me laugh and that I can laugh with, such as my husband and my girlfriends. Chances are, my closest friends are people who have slightly twisted minds, love a good drink, and are just plain silly at times. My kids crack me up with their antics, though they don't always make other people laugh. That's okay.

I honestly have to take sedatives sometimes. I have an anxiety disorder and suffer from panic attacks. They used to be more frequent and my medications were more regular. A change in lifestyle has helped to manage my anxiety to a great degree. Indulging in writing, art, and books helps to relax me when I have the time. This blog is a great stress reliever and so is connecting with other special needs parents. There is never any shame in seeking help, make no mistake about that. Mental health is important. I've even seen a psychiatrist. This doesn't work for everyone, but it helped me.

I view a trip to the grocery store by myself as a mini-vacation. Don't laugh, especially once you find out that my grocery store is less than a mile down the road from my house. If a great song comes on the radio, I crank that up. Can we say concert? I pat myself on the back whenever I see that other parents do this, too.

On the weekends, and sometimes during the week, I drink wine. Apparently, I post on Facebook about this a lot, too, gauging from how often my friends put funny things on my wall. If I drank as often as I joke about it, I'd never get anything done. And no, I don't mix my meds with my wine, okay? That is both dumb and dangerous, so please, no calls to family services.

Sometimes, I lock myself in my bathroom, sit on the edge of the tub, and pin things to Pinterest. My kids think I'm on the toilet and this is only good for ten minutes, max. But, when things are stressful, it's a go-to measure. Don't judge. Hey, I used to have the kids go to a window and watch for Dora for a few minutes of peace. This, I found, is only good every other month. Little minds have big memories.

My husband travels a lot. I mean, a lot. There was a period of time when he was gone more than he was home. Sure, it made things hard as hell, but you know what? It wasn't the end of the world. Military spouses have it harder. I felt sorry for myself but it took an actual military friend pointing out how often his wife was alone during deployments to put this into perspective. Now, I just try to plow on through. I grin and bear it. It's what I do.

I meltdown as much as my Autistic kiddo or my NT preschooler do. I'm a big enough person to admit it. As a parent, you're supposed to stay in control. I'm supposed to do all this crap as both a NT parent and a special needs parent. Guess what? Sometimes I get incredibly friggin' overwhelmed and go batcrap nuts. I try to not do it around my kids, but life happens. This is why I try not to judge other parents when I see them yelling at their children. It just happens. You feel bad, apologize, hope you haven't scarred the hell out of them, and move on. This is life, it's not perfect.

As a special needs parent, I'm not so different from other parents, I guess. This is the only life I know. I don't have all of the answers to the universe. I am not deserving of any praise or a halo (mine melted as a kid, swear). There is no mystery in this. I just strive to do what is best and get through life without permanently scarring my kids, just like most parents.

I'm just trying to parent- with a few extra steps thrown in.


  1. You and me both! I feel the same way. I respond the same way. We do what we need to to keep calm. Heck, if I seem overloaded my own kiddo will send me to my room! *raises glass* Here's to being the best mommy we can be and having the most awesome kiddos ever at the end of the day! :)

    1. Haha, sends you to your room? That's great! I always think, whenever I get asked that (and probably should have put this in the post), "what? parent my kid?" Thanks girl!