Special needs parents are like a pitcher of water. We keep pouring out our energy for our children, the household, work and everything else. It’s no surprise that eventually there’s none left. We are left empty and we have nothing left to give to our children either. We need to find ways to fill ourselves back up with energy, joy and happiness so we can be full of wonderful things to give to pour out to our children.
The world is a big, uncertain place for all little ones, and forming friendships with families of all kinds helps prepare them for it!
One of the hardest aspects of becoming a parent to a child with special needs is how it greatly affects an existing family dynamic. It has the potential to cause strife, conflict and tension in the closest of families. In many cases this leads to a division in family relationships, hurt feelings, and the dissolution of a support system that is greatly needed.
No matter the root of the conflict, the same cooping mechanisms apply for getting through that very strenuous and painful situation.
Comparing my life to friends with neuro typical kids was killing me with seeing everything that T couldn’t do, while comparing my life to those with greater challenges made me feel like I couldn’t ask for help, because my life was easy compared to theirs. I had to stop all of it to be able to embrace our own journey.
Life is complicated, and my hard is just that – my hard – just as your hard is your hard. No comparison necessary.
What if in building your walls of protection and barricading hearts you shut out the ones who just might actually want to stay? Community is a two way street. If you don’t let them in, you will never know the ones who truly love well.
So, what if you let down that wall and just let them in?
It all starts with finding common ground. Every mom has a similar experience, a similar set of responsibilities, joys, fears, hopes, and frustrations. Special needs moms have a few complications, sometimes a lot. But, every mom (every person) also has a distinctive journey with its own struggles.
Bridging the gap is going to take work on both sides. We have to acknowledge that this parenting thing is hard sometimes, whether you have a child with special needs or not. We need to be willing to look beyond ourselves, reach out to those who are struggling, accept friendship and help when it’s offered, and do everything in our power to bridge the gap so that no parent feels alone on this journey.
These are 4 things that I did not know before adopting Zhang Zhou, Wang Xue, Ji Rong or Zeng Shu. Our children were adopted at 3, 12, 6 and 12 respectively, from 2001 to 2006. If I had known, it would not have changed the adoption process; I may have been better prepared for the new normal that was coming our way.