by Momma Kate, Created BEAUTIFULLY Special
Have you ever had one of those moments where your mouth falls open and you have to pick your jaw up off the floor? I had that very thing happen today. While I was having a rare ‘spa moment’…let me clarify…I was at the chiropractor to have my neck put back in to place, my doctor, who I’ve seen for 15 years, says to me, ‘You have stress in your life, don’t you?’. I replied, ‘Maybe a little…..’. He was pulling my chain. He knows what my life as a special needs parent consists of. Apparently, the areas in my body that were showing the most signs of needing attention were my neck, shoulders and head. Cue the tension headache. That leads me to address this area of ‘stress’ in our lives. Every single person has it. Let me make myself loud and clear. I know that the entire human race, special needs parent or typical parent, carries quite a load. Here, I want to focus on us special needs parents. To cover all the areas, lets break it down into sections.
First stop, Physical Stress. There are so many different ways that we have to care for our kiddos. Everything from lifting, changing diapers, dressing, bathing, feedings, giving meds, fighting sensory meltdowns, learning new medical treatments, daily therapy regimens, extra laundry, countless appointments, hospital stays, the average 2-4 hours of sleep every night for years on end….and the list goes on. Our bodies show the wear and tear of this schedule being repeated day in and day out. It’s inevitable! However, the duties that incur stress don’t stop here.
Let’s move on to the Mental Stress. Please tell me I am not the only one whose brain NEVER stops. The thoughts at 1am…. ‘I need to call Neurology in the morning to make sure that the Physical Medicine doc knows what the Developmental Pediatrician said yesterday.’, ‘I need to get that script moving for the Occupational Therapy.’, ‘Oh dear God, another surgery? Guess I should start taking care of….’. The ‘To Do’ list go on and on and on. We live and breathe the medical terms, diagnosis, meds, reactions, new docs, etc. We do things we don’t even know we do! We are subconsciously watching every single move, breath, swallow, and diaper, because at any given moment, we will be thrown for another loop, be in the Emergency Room, and the doctor will want to know the minute by minute detail of the last 24 hours. That includes what our child does while sleeping…..
How about the Emotional Stress? Yes, I will admit, I do cry in the shower. I try very hard to contain it there, because I don’t want Boo to think I’m upset about her. Sometimes though, Momma needs a good cry. Let’s face it, we are talking about life-threatening situations not just every now and then, but daily. Whether it’s a serious medical crisis or a sensory meltdown that propels your child to run from you in the parking lot, your emotions and body are always on guard. Add in what other people think about what you are doing…. you might as well call it a day!
Anyone have Marital Stress? First off, let me say that I absolutely adore my husband. I married the man because I not only love him, but I like the person he is. Yet, I am so drained by the time I get alone with him, that I come across grumpy and short because the only thing running through my mind is, ‘Get me to my pillow so I can get just a little sleep’. In our 6 years of being parents, we have been alone maybe 4 nights. Usually, once we are completely alone, we zonk out! We are both so drained from the day in and day out of special needs caregiving, that we snuggle down in and saw logs! There are some areas that we try to do daily, weekly, monthly… We try to laugh a little and tell each other, ‘I Love You’ every day. To know that even in the midst of this craziness, we are still important to the other. At night, when all is quiet… at 10p or 12a, we sit on the couch and snuggle to a comedic tv show. Something that takes our brains to a lighter level. We are working very hard at trying to get one meal a month, just the 2 of us. No kids, just the 2 of us on a ummmm….what is that? A DATE! Yes! Sorry, I still get butterflies.
If you are like me, you also have other children who need a Momma too! They are just as important and need to be held, listened to, and encouraged. When the heck to you have time to clean, do laundry, grocery shop, weed the flower beds……my time is usually between 9:30p and 2a. When I want to be with my hubby or sleeping. See, you are not alone!!!!! It is a seemingly impossible situation that we live in!
I want to take a second to chat with those of you who are on the outside looking in. Maybe you are a grandparent or a friend to someone who has a special little kiddo. I hear often that people don’t know how to help or what to do. Listen to me loud and clear. It’s little things that mean the world to us. Drop off a meal, but be sure to know if there are adjusted diets. Offer to come and clean the toilet, mop the floor, make the beds, fold some laundry, any little quick job that helps us ‘feel’ better. Give an hour of your time for whatever we may need. Send a card of encouragement. Call and see if there are some grocery items that need picked up. Run thru Starbucks and get Momma her favorite drink…odds are, we haven’t had one in ages. Realize that we may not be able to talk on the phone due to our daily routine, but we thrive on adult conversations. Stop by, and just chat about something besides medical terms. We are still people on the inside that are getting buried by this life we live. In stopping by, please don’t judge our house, appearance, or expect us to wait on you hand and foot. Our world never stops, so those around us need to be willing to hop on the ‘treadmill’ and walk a mile in our shoes. Most of us have no life outside of Special Needs. That is the truth. We are not ignoring you. We are simply immersed into giving our child(ren) the most normal life possible. Things that the world takes for granted. Please, be understanding and for a moment, learn what it’s like and put yourself in our position. We need you like you need us.
Mommas, my doctor reminded me today, what we have all heard a million times. You can’t give to those around you unless you have given to yourself. He encouraged me to take 5 minutes a day to recharge. Close your eyes and breathe. Read a chapter in a book. Pray. Paint your nails. Listen to a song. You have read those articles that talk about our stress levels being comparable to combat soldiers, right? Shaving somewhere between 5-15 years off of our life expectancy. You are worth this. Your family needs you. Start right now. Give yourself some air and remember, that you have been Created BEAUTIFULLY Special.
I am an almost 30 year old SAHM with 3 kiddos and am married to my prince charming. I quickly learned that life would not go according as planned when our first child was born with Cerebral Palsy. Now, at the age of 6, our little girl has almost 20 separate diagnosis and is our miracle baby. The doctors didn’t expect her to live past her first birthday, but she has proven them all wrong. ‘Created BEAUTIFULLY Special‘ was born in my heart to show what the special needs journey is really about and to showcase individual kiddos beating the odds.
This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.