Ok, enough of this, “yay everything is great” stuff. I’m sure all of you are wondering when I’ll lay down some for-real shitty shit about life. Well, you are in luck. Because here it is.
What nobody ever talks about is how much of a strain it puts on your ENTIRE WORLD to have a child with special needs. It consumes every part of you. When things were at their worst, I could feel the despair and sadness all the way down to my bones. I was a crappy Mom. I was a super crappy wife. I was a double crappy friend. It was like every breath I took, and every moment of my life was dedicated to serving and handling something beyond my abilities. I was behind the wheel of a runaway train barreling down the tracks at 125 miles and hour. My whole life was a blur around me.
Oooh, she said it. She was a crappy wife.
You bet your ASS I was. All my husband and I could do was argue over various things that happened throughout the day, and disagree on how it was/should be handled. It was a nightmare. It literally almost tore us apart at the seams. Even when we actually did make time for ourselves, it was spent stressing over how our kids were behaving for the sitter….or discussing our shared anxiety and frustration over our home situation. It was hard. HARD. And Bill and I have done hard stuff before. We have loved and lost an amazing gym. We buried my father. We struggled through being dead broke. None of it compared to feeling like we were failing our son.
And did you catch the part where I was a crappy Mom? Not just to my son, but especially to my girls. The fact that a 5 and 3 year old were suddenly expected to “look after each other” while Mommy dragged a kicking and screaming boy up to his room, was insane. Believe it or not, they ACTUALLY looked after each other during Brady’s tornado sessions. They learned (the hard way) to stay just far enough away from him, that they were out of reach of his fists and feet. They learned that if Brady sounds angry, they just have to be quiet and not get into an argument with him. They learned that if Mommy has to spend time helping Brady calm down, they needed to get their own snacks out of the pantry, and just play quietly. They never EVER interrupted Mommy or asked for anything when she was with Brady….because that would get him all upset again.
Oh, and have I mentioned what a terrible friend I have been? I could barely summon the strength to call my own Mother and tell her about my day, let alone phone a friend. Evenings out were almost non existent. We used to get together with friends nearly every weekend, and now I’m lucky to see friends a few times a year. The stress of having to hoover over Brady at functions and gatherings made it almost impossible to just relax. And when we actually had someone willing to babysit, I spent my time venting and crying about how tough things were. (can you say buzz kill!?) Phone conversations were almost always cut short by some sort of disaster at my house. So…yeah. Being my friend over the last year hasn’t been very thrilling.
And the only reason I can see all of these things with such clarity, is because we are starting to find our way to the other side. I realized the other night how casually Bill and I were sitting around chatting and sharing some wine. We weren’t even discussing the kids, or parenting strategies…we were just laughing and talking about the future. Something we haven’t done in a long, long time. We were just surviving each day as it came and rarely thought very far ahead. Looking forward together kind of washed away some of the hurt we have experienced as a couple.
Maybe nobody mentions how hard it is because they are caught up in appearing “tough”, or wanting to seem like they “have it all together”. In my case, I was afraid to say it out loud, for fear that I would sound like less of a person, less of a Mom. I have always told Brady that “Mommy will never stop loving you, and I will never stop trying to help you.” I’m a silver-lining kind of gal, and I guess I didn’t want to seem like I was in over my head. Sure, the people who knew me best knew I was suffering, but publicly I tried to appear very much in control. But let’s be honest. I was a hot mess.
I know I am not alone. The more I share my journey, the more people reach out to let me know their lives aren’t that different. So for anyone who is in the shittiest-shit, know this; you are strong enough. You are tough enough. You WILL find your way to the other side of this. You CAN love your child through this, simply because you MUST love your child through this. Believe in yourself, because I believe in you. If I can find some hope for my family, you can too. Never feel alone, because whether you know it or not, there is a whole tribe waiting to step in and help when you need it. Just when you think you are about to hit rock bottom, there will be a hundred hands ready to lift you back up and set you on your feet.