The Traps and Gaps of Special Needs Parenting

Recently, my husband had surgery for prostate cancer. Not to worry. All is well and the procedure was a success. However, the process was grueling. It was a long s-l-o-w recovery filled with pain, exhaustion and pills – and that was just me – he had a hard time too!

During the long weeks of his recovery we watched a lot of TV.  One afternoon a commercial for a cancer drug came on.  It portrayed a woman with metastatic breast cancer going about her daily routine and she didn’t look sick.  The weather was beautiful and she was out at the local farmer’s market buying organic fruits and vegetables.  As she pedaled up to her lovely home with fresh cut flowers and produce in her wicker bike basket, a faithful golden retriever trotted up to greet her.  When the commercial ended, my husband and I looked at each other like, REALLY?  We were in the midst of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and our experience did not look anything like that! Although, in all fairness to the drug company, it did closely resemble the end of the commercial where they listed all of the horrible side effects…

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THE COMPARISON TRAP

Have you ever felt this way in your experience as a special needs parent? Have you ever thought, ‘What a crock!’ I know I have. Let me set the scene. You are bone tired and emotionally exhausted from dealing with your child with <insert condition>.  You pour yourself a cup of coffee, grab your phone and plant yourself on the couch to catch your breath.  You login to social media and instead of feeling refreshed your heart sinks.  Your neighbor’s son, same age as yours, has just gotten an academic achievement award in middle school and you’re still trying to teach yours how to tie his shoes.  Your sister is off on a Disney vacation while your last attempt at a fun family outing resulted in your daughter melting down at McDonalds due to sensory overload.  You are genuinely happy for your friends and family.  They are good people. Supportive. Helpful. Loving. But all you want to do is unfollow their profiles because their ‘perfect’ life is painful to watch.  STOP!  Don’t fall into the comparison trap!

If I have learned anything on this special needs parenting journey it is this:

It is destructive and futile to compare our children to those of their typically developing peers.

That’s it. No other advice on the subject. No anecdotes. No inspirational quotes. Just a heartfelt plea for you to do yourself a favor and STOP! I cannot put it any clearer and I cannot stress it enough. If you can conquer this one temptation your special needs parenting journey will be 100 times easier. It will allow you to relax and enjoy your child for who he or she is.

THE UNHAPPINESS GAP

There is a theory that states that the space between our expectations and our experiences is called the unhappiness gap.  In other words, how we think things should be and how they really are = our level of unhappiness in any particular situation.

So forget the shoulds. Don’t worry about what other people’s children are doing and when. And don’t get fooled by the commercials for shiny happy lives that people broadcast. Like those unrealistic advertisements on TV, the reality of their situation usually doesn’t match the hype.

Life is messy. Parenting is hard. And parenting a child with special needs is even harder. Keep your expectations realistic, accept your reality and remember that NONE of us ever gets away without experiencing some of the nasty side effects of life.

Until next time,

Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Son Has a Speech Disorder and it Rocks!

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My son Geordi has a speech disorder that is annoying, heartbreaking and funny at the same time. My patience wears thin when I listen to him s-l-o-w-l-y  work through what he is trying to say.  Other times, my heart goes out to him as he struggles to express his feelings.  But mostly he simply cracks me up with some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth.

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“Mom, Get Out of My Life But…”

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I was in a bookstore the other day when I saw the title of a book that almost made me snort latte out of my nose.  It was called Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl To The Mall?   by Dr. Anthony E. Wolf PhD.

This title is a perfect description of my current reality with my son.

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Mom Discovers Priceless Art Collection In Her Own Home

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Everyone has their favorite traditions.  One of mine is decorating the house for Christmas.  I love putting on holiday music, grabbing a cup of coffee and going through the boxes that my boys have brought up from the basement.  Then I spend the next couple of hours putting away my everyday decorations and putting up my Christmas ones.

This year, as I was going through the motions, I began to notice – really notice – all of the beautiful things in my home.  Everywhere I looked I saw flashes of creativity and joy!  There were bright colors, and a myriad of shapes. Continue reading →

We All Need A Little Respite

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“R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what is means to me!…” 

As my plane slowly descended onto the runway at Detroit Airport, I found myself humming this Motown classic.  I was returning from a rare long weekend in Nashville with my husband and NO KIDS!

As I looked out the window of the plane, the song’s chorus kept repeating in my head. I closed my eyes—took a deep breath—and pictured myself on stage rocking a sequins dress and belting out the tunes.  And just like that, I was the Queen of Soul, but my version went something like this:

R-E-S-P-I-T-E

Find out what it means to me

R-E-S-P-I-T-E

Take care, TCB

Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)….

I smiled to myself and pushed up my seat tray – it was no small feat, but I had done it. I had gone away with my husband for three whole days!

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Yearbooks Get Me Every Time

 

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Does anyone else cry when they look through yearbooks?

I was sitting in my living room this morning crying like a baby. My youngest son, Jacob, has given me his 6th grade yearbook to flip through.

Jake: Mom! Are you crying? You are so weird!

Me: Never mind – get me a Kleenex – some day you will understand! Continue reading →

The Great Adventure

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Twenty-four years ago my oldest son Geordi , (Geo), was born with big blue eyes, dark curly hair and chubby little cheeks that made you want to smother them in kisses. He was also born “fussy” – not wanting to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time and not feeding well. As time went on, he was also late to sit, crawl, walk and talk. By the age of two, he was diagnosed as, “developmentally delayed” – cause unknown. Continue reading →