Parenting can be a tough gig. Having children with additional needs adds another dimension that only those who experience it really understand. All the joys and struggles of being a parent are there, along with extra challenges. At times this can be be isolating.
To the parent of a child with additional needs, this is for you:
I see you.
You are doing an amazing job.
I see the time and effort you put into your child. I see your tears of grief at midnight as you wonder why it is so. I see your pain when your child isn’t understood or included. I see the longing and hopes you have for your child, and the fears you hold.
I hear the voices of guilt that have plagued you: did I do something wrong? Is it my fault? I see the disappointment that you hide.
I see the myriad appointments you attend and how much energy you put into therapy, training and support. I hear the frustration of new beginnings, more conversations, trying to get people to see and support your child for who they really are. I hear you having those conversations … again and again. I feel the pain of being shunned.
I see you in the lonely times. The isolation can be hard. It is often easier to stay home where things are safe. Going out is hard and causes pain. I hear the cries for belonging and for it to be easier.
Most of all I see the love you have. The love that transcends all circumstances. The love that is behind closed doors: in the unseen moments. It is the love that carries you all through, the love that believes and hopes for more. It is the love that bleeds to see your child included and embraced by others. The love that battles isolation.
When the fears and loneliness come, when you feel like there is no one who understands, no one who sees: know this: you are not alone. There is a community out there who understands. Search for them.
Your energy, blood, sweat and tears are worth it. Your love is a loud voice. It calls out to the dark times and says: “I will not give up!”. Your voice rises louder than the pain and brings forth life to your child: your beautiful, precious child.
And as you go, do not be afraid to celebrate the small victories. Celebrate the first steps she has taken; the friend he has made; the first word spoken; the first sign she made with her hand; the fact that he ate a piece of apple… whatever it is … celebrate it!
I see you, dear heart. I see your love and I see your weariness. Look after yourself. You and your children are worth it.
You are amazing … and you are not alone.
(If you need a safe place to venture out, please contact a local MOPS group.)
Wife, Mum, blogger and so much more, Ange blogs about finding hope in the journey here