I am exhausted. I am weary. I am tired.
Champion is a couple of months shy of turning four years old.
It has been four years since I have gotten a full, uninterrupted nights sleep. Its been four years since I’ve gotten to lay down before midnight. Its been four years since I’ve gotten more than a few hours of sleep at a time.
I am so very tired.
Parenting a child with special needs is challenging stuff.
It is hard to explain to others who aren’t in it the nuances that occur that disrupt almost every aspect of life.
It’s hard to explain to family and friends how difficult it is to go without sleep for this long and still try to be very present for an inquisitive almost four-year old who needs me to do and be everything for him. I am an extension of his hands, his feet, his legs. I am his voice.
If I didn’t feed him he wouldn’t be able to eat. If I didn’t get him out of bed he wouldn’t be able to get up. If I didn’t change him he would be soiled all day. Right now, as things stand, if I don’t do something for him, there’s no way he could do it on his own.
Day in and day out I, along with countless other parents of children with special needs who are doing the same for their children, am my son’s everything.
It is bone chillingly exhausting.
Yes there are many many many beautiful rewarding moments as Champion’s mom. Just as being his mom has exhausted me to my core, being his mom has also changed me and my view of life for the better at the core.
Being Champion’s mom has defined me and refined me as a person more than any other experience. I could go on and on about how much being his mom is a blessing and a gift.
However, and this is a big however, as much as a gift it is being a parent to a child with special needs, if not careful, this role can become dangerously draining and it needs to be okay to talk openly and honestly about how challenging it is.
Awhile ago I participated in a small group bible study at a church. It was a very good small group where we were able to talk and share about the challenges we were facing in life. I really enjoyed the group and it turned out to be very therapeutic.
However, at the beginning when I began sharing about Champion and some of the harder things I face as his mom, one of the other women responded and said “Yeah but isn’t he just a blessing and aren’t you learning so much as his mom?”
And the answer to that question is yes, he is. Yes, the majority of parents who have a child with special needs would say that their child has changed them for the better, that their child teaches them about life and love and that they are blessings.
But, with that, parents of children with special needs need to be able to express and be understood that It. Is. Not. Easy. And that when we talk about how uneasy it is, that we are not downing our child, that we’re not ungrateful to be their parent, and that we’re not unhappy with the child we’ve been blessed with.
We are simply saying: This is hard, I need someone to understand that, and I need help.
Let’s Talk: What situations do you find yourself in that are hard to articulate to others how much of a challenge it is? How do you handle expressing to others that you need help? Is it easy or difficult for you to ask for help?
Photo Credit: La Melodie