How often do you struggle with guilt as a mom of a special needs child? This seems to be one of those on-going struggles for so many of us.
Dear Mom of a Special Needs Child,
First and foremost, I want to inform you of something: you are enough. Got it? Remember this when the going gets tough. Because we know that there are going to be days where we’re more than ready to throw in the towel and walk away. But we can’t. Because we’re moms and someone has to be there.
Second, let’s talk about how to avoid the common pitfalls that we, as special needs moms, often face. Kick the bad habits of special needs moms and change your mindset to (hopefully) avoid the guilt trip later on.
And even though is may be addressed to moms, this applies to dads, grandparents- any primary caregiver of a special needs child.
Often, as parents, we question our parenting skills. As special needs parents, this holds true for us as well. Sometimes maybe more so when it comes to our special needs kids. There may be no rhyme or reason to this, it just might be something that’s ingrained and that we just can’t shake. In fact, for me, not a day goes by where I don’t question my parenting skills and whether or not I’m doing something right.
The days that I don’t question my parenting skills are far and few between and then it becomes a never-ending cycle of nitpicking.
Does this sound familiar?
As parents, we tend to put too much pressure on ourselves. Not just for our kids sake, but for our own sake and to keep up with the rest of the world.
And in all honesty, this is something that we need to avoid doing.
Don’t get me wrong, comparison is not necessarily a bad thing. But when it comes to parenting? Comparison is something that should be avoided at all costs.
Believe me- I’m guilty of this, too. Even when it comes to my own daughters. I know that I shouldn’t do it, but it still happens. My younger daughter starts hitting a milestone or starts babbling and it’s a sharp, painful, slap in the face that my older daughter can’t do it.
And then the mom guilt kicks in. Big time.
Was there something different that I could have done during pregnancy? Was it something I ate? Did I put her into daycare too quickly? Should I have tried to breastfeed longer?
It has to have been something that I did, you know?
That’s when I have to tell myself to stop and remind myself- it’s not my fault. I have to remind myself- things happen. And as much as I would have liked to have changed things, I can’t.
As the cliche goes- it is what it is. C’est la vie (that’s life).
And there’s a part of me that wants to tell that realist side to just shut up because it’s not what I need to hear… Even when it’s exactly what I need to hear.
But how else do we deal with this? How else do we will ourselves to go on?
Because we have to.
We become the voices for our children, we become their advocates, we become their greatest champions.
We do this by choice because someone has to.
That should be reason enough to keep going. That should be reason enough to kick the mom guilt. That should be reason enough, even on the worst days when we question our abilities as parents.
Because we have to and because they need us to.
Even on those days where we think we can’t do it or when we start to doubt ourselves? They think we can do it. Our children still believe in us. They need us to be strong, they need us to hold it together, and they need for us to be at our best.
We can’t very well be at our best when our mindset is the exact opposite, can we?
And that, fellow special needs mom, is why we need to kick the bad habits of special needs parenting.
Not just for our own sake but for the sake of our children.
Because someone has to be there for them.
And if it’s not us, then who else will?
So on those days when your guilt starts to eat away at you or when self doubt gnaws at your conscience- tell it to stop. Because you are enough.
No matter what your inner voice tells you or what society wants you to believe; you are enough. Ditch your mom bad habits today.