“Dear Special Needs Mama: You Are Not Alone”
If you hear only one thing, let it be this: Find your tribe and love them hard.
Momming is messy and hard, no matter who your child is. Even the most well behaved and polite child will throw a tantrum eventually.
When you parent what I call “extreme children,” parenting goes from hard to nearly impossible. Even on our children’s best days, they have meltdowns. They may have a great morning, but bring home a note about behavior at school. They may volunteer to help with dinner, but lose their minds before bed.
Parenting children with behavioral and emotional special needs is unpredictable. More than any feeling my husband and I have felt over the last five years of living this life is paralyzing isolation.
Mama, I hear you crying on the bathroom floor, face tucked tightly into your knees and mouth covered by a hand towel in a desperate attempt for no one to know you’re losing the fight against mom burnout. I know how hard you’ve worked to keep it together since your little one woke up spitting and screaming; how you tried to remain calm, picking up the toys they slammed against the wall, and folding the stretched collars of shirts they’ve tugged and chewed on.
I have been on that bathroom floor. Last week was so long and so hard dealing with our son’s behavior that I honestly didn’t know if I’d make it to the weekend. I was spit at, hit, had toys thrown at me, had pictures broken off our walls, and spent no less than three nights without sleep. I cried more this week than I have in a while. We need each other.
You aren’t in this fight alone. If you hear only one thing, let it be this: reach out. Whether you comment here, email me, or text a friend, begin to build your village. These are the folks who will hold you up when your body parts are like limp spaghetti and you are all cried out. I feel you. I live this lonely, exhausting life, too.
My little tribe of friends is my most important resource. Whether it is 3 a.m. or noon, I text them to vent. I have called them crying. I have texted them from the bathroom floor. I have sent memes that were questionable, but I knew they’d get it and we laughed together. We laugh to overcome the tears.
These are the folks I found from a list of old friends and members of Facebook support groups. They are people I trust unconditionally because they aren’t just friends; they live the same life I do. They aren’t giving sympathetic comments hoping to comfort me. My tribe knows my struggles because those struggles are their own. Find your tribe and love them hard.
We are in this together.