I decided to print this phrase and hang it on my wall, so I can read it repeatedly and stop acting like I do. “Special needs moms have no super powers”. Clarification: I am not a fan of the label “special needs moms,” and I go for people first language always, but it makes sense to use it in this case.
Yes, many times, society is guilty of idealizing people with disabilities and everyone around them. But the rest of the time, as parents, we are the ones who want to believe that we are a special kind of human being. We think we are superheroes who can do much more than others or have more power and motivation than the rest.
The reality is that, just like with every other parent, even if in the first few years you survive deprived of rest, food, and personal interests; if you don’t slow down or look for balance, you will experience burnout.
It’s not easy to avoid this intense desire to change the world for your child with disabilities, and it’s hard to deal with the feeling of unfairness that this new reality brings to your life. I’m not asking you to give up, but to find a balance as early as you can. No matter how much you fight and how much passion and love you invest trying to fix it all in those first couple of years, every new cycle requires the same amount of energy. The truth is, you don’t have superhuman powers and you’ll need to recharge your batteries from time to time.
There are going to be times when you feel that you are really a superhero, and that’s okay. Wear your cape as long as you want, but don’t forget to take a break. Yes, your child’s love is going to empower and motivate you incredibly, but you are simply a human being, and that child needs you healthy, sane and balanced.
Personally, it has taken me more than a decade to learn how to accept help from others. Since the beginning, I have had this need to demonstrate that I didn’t need help and it has been only as the years passed that I’ve understood my humanness. I have accepted that all my drama with rejecting help was about not giving the people around me the right to judge me or feel sorry for me. I wanted them to think I was a superhero because I thought I should be one.
Now I’m proud to share that I’ve learned to say yes. For example, my daughter’s teacher sent me an email yesterday morning, letting me know that there were two volunteers available to help with the school research project. My first reaction was: “No way. I need to complete this assignment with my daughter. I don’t need help. We can work over the weekend, or maybe very early morning.” I usually reply to everything immediately, just because every second counts and I want to keep up with everything. But yesterday, I didn’t reply right away.
I decided to wait and think about the possibility of getting help with this research project, and I decided to reply: “Yes, some help would be great.”
Yes, I could keep pretending to be a superhero who knows how to juggle family, school, life and more, but I’m not. Being an energetic person by nature has helped a lot throughout the years; however, I’m done with it. I want to go back to a slow and easy pace in life. I want to follow my children’s steps, and take the time to enjoy every moment deeply.
I wish you the same! Enjoy more, think less, live without limits.