I didn't start out with the desire to parent one special needs child...let alone two. I thought I had all of the answers many times along the way and then things would come to crash in my face and I realized that I knew very little. I have learned many lessons in this 7 year journey. I have lived much pain and heartache but also I have felt even more love and joy in this journey.
I have been asked, many times, if I would do this again. And there have been times that I have said no or no way. I have grown immensely as of late and I have now concluded that I would do this again.....OVER and OVER again. I love my children and I am so blessed to have them in my life. Their struggles are painful for all of us but the happiness along the way makes the pain more bearable.
Rosie is in a short term facility for "complications" of her RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and PTSD (Post Tramatic Stress Disorder) This is actually her fourth out of home placement since December. The constant stress has put a strain on all of us.
Marie has also been having her own struggles. Their energy seems to suck the other in to the tsunami of drama. It has become disabling for me. I was consumed in the drama. I also wanted to escape. I couldn't deal with the stress.
About three weeks ago I read something a therapist told a mother of a child with Borderline Personality Disorder and it changed my life. It has given me back my life in ways I can't even begin to explain.( it will be number one on my list)
It made me begin to reflect on the many lessons I have learned through parenting special needs kids. I wanted to share the five best lessons I have learned. I don't necessarily think this only pertains to special needs moms...Some of these are universal...Some aren't
My Five Lessons:
1. "Get Off the Emotional Roller Coaster" I can not tell you the original author of these words but I am not trademarking them or using them as my own so I think I am good. This has totally changed my life. It is such a simple concept but so hard to do. I have learned that I can love, support and help my child without becoming part of their emotional roller coaster. My feet need to be firmly planted on the ground to be of any help to my child. It also frees you from the emotional torment that our children can try to inflict upon us. If we aren't on the ride, we can't get hurt. Try it....Amazing freedom..Joy in the journey.
2. "Someone else always has it worse" Kind of a lame one but true. It is easy to become "stuck" in the drama of our own lives and to feel as if "no one could possibly know how much my life sucks" No they don't know but their life could suck worse. AND more importantly, there is always happiness to be had....we need to spend our time finding the good and not dwelling on the bad.
3. "It wasn't as bad as I thought" My older daughter is very, very impulsive. She is our "runner" So she has pseudo run away several times. She usually runs to the police station or a specific friend. I always know where she goes. I thought that getting the call from the Police Station would be the end of it. I would die of embarrassment. It wasn't the end of the world. Not super fun but I didn't die! I learned a lot about something called Perspective. I am learning to take everything in stride and keep going....It is never as bad as you think it will be. You can survive!
4. "I am a Great Mother" I have to cut myself some slack. My kids aren't perfect and neither am I. They are alive, still in school, and healthy....I am doing A LOT right. Every professional that has worked with our family says that this is one of the most loving families they have met and that as much dysfunction as there is...the unit itself is loving and strong. My husband and I are doing lots right. I need to remember that when the kids are crashing, take a deep breath and keep going.
5. "This too shall pass" We have had one heck of a ride the last four months. I feel as though we have lived two lifetimes in this short amount of time. There have been many moments that I thought I wouldn't be able to go on, many moments when I was sure we were done and ready to quit....but we are still together and in tact as a family. Life has ups and downs. Holding on and finding hope along the way....keeps you going so the ups make the downs less intolerable.
Kids teach us so many lessons. When you become a parent you think of all the things you have to teach them before you say goodbye when they are 18....never realizing the thousands of lessons those little miracles will teach you. I have many many more lessons to share...My ideas are overflowing and my heart is full again. I hope to reignite my blog entries now that I am hopeful and upbeat again.
May you find joy in your journey, too!