Special to The Mobility Resource
Nine years ago, my life was re-routed from my anticipated trip to Italy. Since then I have been living in Holland, which although beautiful was the shock of this moms lifetime. There are many things I absolutely love about Holland and I wouldn’t trade my life in Holland for a trip to Italy. While I embrace the challenges we face, I am by no means perfect! So, in honor of mother’s day, I will share seven confessions of an imperfect special needs Mama.
1. I feed my kids junk food–sometimes a lot!
I make healthy meals, I carefully pack lunches with high fiber bread and lean lunch meats. My kids love fruits and veggies. However, they love junk food more and they have amazing abilities to break me down. It’s as if they plan for the exact right moment to pounce on me with the “can I have _____.” It comes when I finally get the specialist on the phone after fighting with the gatekeeper nurse for days. Or when I am in the middle of making dinner. Doing dishes. Working on homework. Or when I’m in the bathroom. The ‘yes’ I didn’t plan on saying is out of my mouth before I even know I’ve said it. And once it’s been said, there’s no point in taking it back.
2. A “homemaker” I am not.
I love my family, I have the cooking and laundry bits down but when it comes to cleaning, well it’s fair to say it’s not my thing. Not to say I don’t try, I purchase cool devices designed to help with organization and every now and then I actually put the stuff into those cool organizers. I just don’t have a knack for it, so please don’t pop over without a couple of hours warning!
3. I yell at my kids.
Yep, I admit it. I yell at my kids. No, not the first time I make a request, or even the second or third. However, there is a breaking point and even I don’t know when it will be. At some point, probably around the eleventy seventh time I have asked for the banana peel to be picked up off the sofa. Or for someone to sweep up the cereal where the box that they carelessly dumped on the floor. Or for my daughter to get her shoes on so that we can drive her brother to school because he missed the bus–again. Yes I yell. And you know what? They listen! I have yet to figure out how to get that listening response from my kind and patient words, but I haven’t lost hope that I one day will.
4. I smile-and-nod a lot.
The smile-and-nod can have several meanings. Here are a few recent scenarios: “Yes of course I remember that time four years ago when you ate a donut for breakfast and it had blue sprinkles.” “Oh yep, I think the house you built in Minecraft is incredibly cool and sure I will look at the details two hundred and twelve times.” “And yes, I know all about every random obscure Pokemon and care deeply about every single one of them.”
5. I let my kids sleep in my bed.
Not every night (anymore) but yes, I let my kids sleep in my bed sometimes. I don’t have guilt about it either. They are just such adorable snuggly little beings and I am keenly aware that the time will come far too quickly when they have no interest in snuggling with Mom, so I take my snuggles when I can get them.
6. I wish I was a better juggler.
Special needs mom’s know that our schedules can get a little crazy. I am a strong believer in my color coded calendar system and it rarely fails me. Nevertheless, the calendar can only be as perfect as the person filling it out. One day last year my son had an orthodontist appointment in the afternoon. I booked the afternoon off, picked him up and drove him to the office only to find out his appointment was the following week. The date was written on the wrong Tuesday on the calendar, but I had taken the correct day off work, which meant everyone at work was wondering where I had disappeared to. I was mortified! I have come to the conclusion that, if I was watching a juggler, juggling a million balls and he dropped a couple of them, I would be amazed at the 999,998 that he kept in the air. However, if I drop even a single ball, I am really hard on myself.
7. I am not above bribery.
Call it a reward or positive reinforcement, at the end of the day, I will bribe my kids to help us all get through the day. For months I made my son a chocolate milkshake every time he was calm during his infusion. Sure, they were healthier than a fast food milkshake, but it was a milkshake none the less. All those milkshakes helped me start IVs in a kiddo who wasn’t fighting and wailing which meant more success and fewer sticks needed. Worth every milkshake I made all those months.
I realize that I was a pretty fantastic Mom in my mind back before I had kids. I remember being certain I wouldn’t let my kids watch shows that they are now able to quote entire episodes from or eat fast food, and that we would always have dinner at the table every night. I’m not that imaginary Mom from that other lifetime before I had kids. When we didn’t know how many days our son had left, it didn’t seem to matter if he drank nothing but chocolate milk or what he watched on television. I make mistakes, we eat fast food, stay up past our bedtimes and watch too much TV. We have so many really major things to worry about, that those things I thought made a good mom back then are barely a blip on my radar anymore. I have a house full of love and a family who likes to hang out together, these are the things that matter to me now. At the end of the day, Holland is beautiful, the tulips are amazing this time of year, and I know that I am a better person and a better mother for the reroute from my original plans.
As a mom of a special needs child, what do you wish people really knew?