I know how horrible it is to feel like you aren’t doing enough for your child. Us moms are fixers. We should be able to somewhat fix our children too, right?!
I know the feeling of not having enough hours in a day, of being spread unbelievably thin, and of secretly hoping you catch a cold so you have an excuse to lie down. I’ve had all those feelings, wished for all those things, and the whole experience was extremely deflating.
If your child with special needs is between 2-8 years old, you are probably in the thick of everything. You have no choice but to attend those medical appointments, assessments, and therapies. I won’t sugarcoat it. You are in the middle of an unavoidable storm, swimming in the turbulent deep ocean waters, barely keeping your head afloat. This might just be the hardest time for moms of children with special needs, so stop beating yourself up. You are not to blame for anything. You are doing enough!
I wish I knew I was doing enough during those times. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it actually. But I did do it, and I accomplished a heck of a lot! (You would not believe how much I did if I told you). But I drowned at one point, and it probably could have been avoided if only I had gotten a hold of my thoughts. I too believed I was never doing enough.
I don’t want you to drown. Let me throw you a life jacket, so you can at least catch your breath and listen.
Let me start by repeating that you are doing enough. Stop for a minute, take a deep breath, and review everything you’ve done so far. Can you acknowledge that you have taken many steps toward helping your child? In theory, on a rational level, can you accept this as the truth? Perhaps you aren’t processing it on an emotional level, (which I totally get when you are in that panicky state of emergency), but if you can separate yourself from those emotions, just for a minute, do you not see it?
I’d like to offer you more than a life jacket now. I’d like to give you a small break by inviting you to come to sit in my rescue boat for a bit. It’s just a brief pause, as I know you will have to get back in the waters.
I am giving you permission to rest because I know how we moms can push ourselves beyond our limits. Do you not see that absolutely anyone thrown into the middle of the deepest part of the ocean, during an unpredictable storm, would undeniably need to rest once in a while? Why can you not see that this also applies to you? Are you not human? Ladies, we are often the ones who put these crazy, unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
As someone who has survived the storm, I can offer you this advice now because hindsight is always 20/20:
1-There is nothing wrong with you, you are not weak, so stop beating yourself up! You are the strongest of the strongest! You are powerful and effective! Your child could not have picked a better soul for a mom! Any mom and every mom in your position would feel the exact same way. It is how you choose to talk to yourself and handle the unavoidable stress that will determine whether or not you drown. Try writing these affirmations down and placing them somewhere where you will be able to read them often:
I am doing everything that I can at this time in my life, with my current resources, and all my other responsibilities. There are some things that I can do to help my child and some things that are out of my control. I give myself permission to ask for help and rest properly, as I know that both these things allow me to gather the strength to continue helping my child.
2-Ask for a life jacket when the winds pick up! You are not alone. Admit to yourself, to your partner, and to your team of professionals, when you need some support. The best way to ask for help is by being extremely specific, stating things matter-of-factly, and staying emotionally neutral. Reach out to a support group! Call that other mom of a child with special needs and empty what’s in your heart. No one expects you to do it all on your own, so stop expecting this of yourself!
3-Get in the rescue boat sometimes to rest! Why wouldn’t you? Do you have supernatural powers that would allow you to keep up this frantic swimming pace forever? I don’t think so, so why do you expect this of yourself? What you do every day is not only physically demanding but emotionally taxing. It is wise to know when to rest. Don’t wait until you need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Know when to stop when the fatigue starts to settle in.
Do you even know your fatigue signs and symptoms? Take time to journal them, and share your observations and findings with your partner. Despite how it may feel at times, your partner also wants what is best for your child (and you).
4- Do something that makes you feel alive! Are you perhaps unconsciously numbing out the painful feeling of not being able to control your child’s outcome, by forcing yourself to do more and more? God knows I did, but did not know I was doing it at the time. By going overboard, I had no time to think, and no time to feel. When I stopped to rest, I was swept into a vortex of unbearable sadness, and so I forced myself to keep going. But, by numbing out the pain, we numb out the pleasure. It is impossible not to do so, and that just adds to the feeling of being tired on a soul level.
So how do you address that? When you stop to rest, you make sure to force yourself to also include doing something that makes you feel alive. And when you feel alive, you feel motivated to want more for yourself, and you are in a better state of mind to tackle your complex feelings.
What makes you feel alive? If you do not know anymore, let me help you! My sessions with the horses are guaranteed to make you feel alive. To get out of this habit, you need to get out of your comfort zone, think out of the box, and get into the arena of life with the horses!
I have so many tricks in my bag! I know we can help you gather the strength to swim back to shore when the storm is over. This too shall pass. I promise. I am here for you…