In one of my forums, I read a post from a mom sharing how hard life can get when you raise children with special needs. Her exact words were, “Sometimes I don’t know if I am doing enough and at the same time, I can’t do more because in order to pay for my child’s special needs I can’t stop working.” For a couple of seconds, I felt as though I was reading my own thoughts from those days when I feel overwhelmed and stressed about my role as a parent. Sometimes nothing seems to be enough no matter how much effort I invest in things. All I want is to vent without fear of judgment from others sometimes. I mean, I am really not asking for advice here but looking for someone honest and brave enough to say, “I’m with you.”
However, and for some strange reason, it is really hard to get that kind of honest feedback. Most of the time as mothers, when we show vulnerability and open our hearts to show insecurity, instead of receiving empathy we get unsolicited advice, or even worse, judgment as our feelings of frustration are diminished and ridiculed. Many other times we are asked to trust and leave everything in the hands of God. Really? I believe in the love of God but I am pretty sure he doesn’t solve our problems or challenges unless we take control and use our free will to make the choice to keep fighting… unless we simply give up.
Being the parent of a child with special needs is never an easy task. I agree too that every child has his or her own challenges but let’s be honest, the demands and needs of a child with special needs are bigger and not always easy to fulfill. Yes, as parents raising children with special needs, we have the right to fall, we have the right to cry, but we should never lose faith, and we shall never forget that they depend entirely on us. One of the best ways to normalize and accept these feelings is to say it loud: “I am tired,” “I don’t know what to do,” “I am lost and scared,” and most importantly, “I need help.”
That is when the ones we love should jump in and help. Sometimes with an act as simple as listening. Sometimes their role should be to start those conversations that we don’t necessarily want to have, with tact and love, so we can open up and vent without guilt or shame. As parents, brothers and sisters living the same circumstance, we should be brave enough to say, “I’ve been there, I am there, I live that too.” With that simple phrase, we give others the permission to be human, to feel understood, and to believe that they will be strong enough as well to keep moving forward for the love of their kids.
Thank you to the bravest and most inspiring people I know, my real friends. I have very few but I love them deeply. These are the ones who are always willing to empathize even with my most complex feelings, with my deepest insecurities. They are the people who know me well enough to love me deeply. I believe few people know and understand the miracle that real friendship is. Words from these friends can be unbelievably powerful and soothing in times of crisis. Imagine how much good we can do when instead of judging one another or telling each other a better way of doing things, we simply say, “I’m with you.”