Having two boys; Austin, age 12 and Yaakov age 10; both with their unique needs and differences our home has been filled with internet searches, exhaustion, and fear. Hoping for some understanding in the unknown situations we have faced over the years.
I am a mother!
Not just any mother, but a mother of children who have special needs. For this article I am going to refer to my job as Supermom, because as mothers we do so many different jobs, but as a mother of a child with special needs the list grows. We aren’t just parenting, and this doesn’t matter if your child has special needs or not. Parenting is hard, but adding a child with special needs to your family circle and your resume is no longer a mother, but Supermom!
Let’s face it if we aren’t dealing with meltdowns, we are taking our child to some sort of therapy (OT, PT, Social Skills, Speech & Language) or there is another doctor visit on the calendar, or we are focused on educating our family members and friends on our child’s needs.
What about those wonderful IEPs? Then there is the sometimes tough job of supporting our child’s teacher even when we want to scream at her, but seeing she is honestly doing what she can to support our child.
I will be first to admit as my children have gotten older I don’t feel like I constantly am wearing that Supermom cape. I remember people telling me when Yaakov was younger it will get easier. I honestly thought those people needed to be locked up in a loony bin, but they were right things have gotten easier as he has gotten older.
At one time our lives were so difficult. Going out to eat in a restaurant and Yaakov would meltdown. Supermom would leave her uneaten meal at the table and take the melting down child outside until Superdad could finish eating and change places with her.
Supermom would get the brunt of Yaakov’s anger with punches and kicks and wonder how she hasn’t lost control.
What about having the sidekick Yaakov glued to her side at all times including the bathroom trips.
It is hard to believe that was five and six years ago. Even harder to believe that I somehow was able to keep grounded and not lose it. Though there were days I thought I was going to.
I chose to not take medication, but to exercise.
I would walk my kids to and from school.
I would spend an hour in the gym.
Between school schedule, the gym, babysitting, and husband’s schedule I was lucky enough to make it happen.
The other trick I did to take care of myself, started after I complained to the doctor about Yaakov not allowing me to go the bathroom on my own. He told me to set the timer and when it went off tell Yaakov I would be out. It took training and several meltdowns but finally I was able to potty in peace. After that I would set the timer and sit on the toilet and take a quick break. Sometimes cry but sometimes just sit there in the quiet without having my sidekick glued to me.
Recently, I started realizing I was struggling again. I wouldn’t say I was depressed, but in a funk. It made no sense as things were going great with Yaakov. He has moved out of a Special Day Class into mainstream and is doing very well, and finally he has made a few friends.
Austin, who has ADHD, received an IEP last year and was actually on the Honor Roll this last quarter, it seemed to me that my cape came off and I was just a mom. I know that is awesome.
I am just a mom now!
But, as awesome as it is to realize your hard work has paid off and your kids are successful; where does that leave me?
Once again, I realized I had to put my life back into perspective. I knew from past experience that meant I needed to join a gym again. After two weeks of working out five days a week. I realized that spiritually I needed refueling as well. As I ran on the Treadmill I started listening to my favorite band “Casting Crowns” and then as I lifted weights I listen to the Bible. After a couple of weeks of this I realize that part of the issue is my house being so disorganized so I set off cleaning it and putting it back in order.
So, today I look around and realized I checked out.
That as much as I have preached for families to take care of themselves. I wasn’t living it.
I live taking care of my marriage, but not my personal self. I was allowing myself to hide behind my cape, because I felt it wasn’t needed anymore. In away taking a break from the world, but it wasn’t a healthy break.
On my daily to do list, I have several things I have to check off for my personal mental health.
Cup of Coffee
House in Order (maybe a little OCD happening. :P)
Cup of tea
Now looking at the list, none of it takes that long but it gives me enough energy to make sure my cape is on properly and know that I am ready to take on a world that has two boys with extraordinary different abilities. My cape is still on, because even though life is easier my children will always need me fighting for their education and pointing out what is in their best interest because that is what Supermom’s do!