To all parents, but especially special needs parents, ASD parents, parents of the kids who don’t quite fit the mould, the anxious ones, the quirky ones, the beautifully challenging ones, the ADHD ones; this is for you.
In the moments when you are tired to your bones, when your eyes close as you take that deep breath, trying to steady your response to what has just been said or done, as though you can maybe just breathe deeply enough to undo it, remember;
Your child is not angry at you – they’re angry because in this moment, it is hard. All of it. Life. They’re directing their anger at you because you are their safety. That anger is hurt wrapped in overwhelm and they’re throwing it at you because they know that despite any of this you will catch them when they feel like they’re falling.
Often enough it will pass in a heartbeat, and you have all these years to practice bouncing back as quick as they can.
One day you might feel like you’re moving forward, the next you might feel like you’re going backwards – this is just your dance for right now. Sometimes the music is a little crazy but there are so many memories to be made on this dance floor and one day you’re going to look back on them and only see joy.
Worry about the future if you must, but pause long enough to blow bubbles, to play in the waves, to knock down sand castles, to drink hot chocolate and talk about nonsense. Your job isn’t to raise a perfect person, it’s to find the perfection right here, right now. It’s to make them laugh. It’s to find the beauty in their drawings or finger-paint messes and love them for their quirks not despite them.
Your child is not anxious at you – and sometimes there is nothing you can do in that moment to help. Listen anyway. Tell them you love them anyway. Get them outside. Build them a fort. Do whatever you need to do, because before you know it a day will come when that anxiety is a little less, and they wont remember those moments of stress, irritation or frustration – they’ll remember playing outside with you, or those amazing forts.
Don’t listen to that relative, that friend, that person on the street who tells you how it should be. Do what works for you and your child. Be unashamed of rocking the path that is just right for your child. Listen to them. Listen to them a thousand times over.
Your child’s joy does not need to look like anyone else’s. Don’t compare. If they are lost in the magnificence of pouring sand through their fingers for an hour then just keep the sand coming. Provide all the opportunities, but with the ease that they may not be taken, and thats ok.
Your child is not having a hard day at you – even though it impacts you, your family, the people you pass in the street. Your child is having a hard day, and you’re doing them the kindness of bearing witness. You’re listening, even in the moments you’d rather not be. You’re walking beside them as they feel all the things.
There is an enormity in being there with your child, when the emotions and challenges feel too big to hold, and just holding them. You’re doing it, and you’re doing fine.