You know how some mornings are.
You wake up and within minutes are alerted to the obvious fact that today is going to be one of THOSE days. Maybe you’ve stumbled out of bed to an unexpected “accident” painted across your child’s wall. Maybe you were woken up way too early- or never had the luxury of sleeping at all. Perhaps you have been rethinking the decision to not give your child medication as she runs full speed loops through the house (and jumps up and down on the bed you aren’t prepared to leave yet). She has been screaming “bye bye car” for thirty minutes straight. And she has no actual desire to go anywhere in the car. It’s just a thing she says. A lot.
You aren’t ready for what lies ahead….but it’s not because of you, your child, or autism. In fact, you feel just fine this morning. You woke up ready for whatever life had to throw at you today. Except, you weren’t ready for the look on your partner’s face. The tone of his voice. The realization that he has woken up in that familiar place that all of us parents find ourselves in now and again. And you know exactly what it means, because you might have been there yourself just yesterday.
Some days we let it get to us. We overthink the future. We even tell ourselves lies that make us feel worse, just because we need a justification for our mood. We think, “This is my life now.” Some of us will be compelled to add the word “forever” to that thought. It might not be accurate, but we aren’t exactly in a place that accepts rational thoughts; let alone hopeful ones. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about human nature and mood. Hopefully as a partnership we take turns visiting this place so that the other one can continually offer reality checks until we snap out of it. And we will.
One of my very first and by far most popular posts was called This Moment Will Pass. Half of you originally found me because someone shared it. So I know I am not alone. It is still the best advice I have to offer. I wrote it down and shared it because it was exactly how I felt at that moment, and many moments since. Teghan is six years old now, and little has changed in my limits as a human being. I still have my days.
But there is a unique experience for those of us who are parenting special needs children as a team. Even those of us in ideal partnerships are not always in the same place at the same time. That would be impossible. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we drag each other down. Some days we wake up content and ready to face any obstacle- only to find that our teammate is thinking up imaginary obstacles. And already knows how we will fail at each of them.
Sometimes it inspires a brainstorm session (mostly on the part of the mentally balanced one that day) of new ways to approach things. Maybe that’s the day you decide to rearrange your house in a way that allows you to stay sitting down more often. Maybe it’s the moment you figure out that you need a weekly babysitter. Or maybe you waste an afternoon online finding out that there are fifty other parents who have it worse, or the same- which is similar to the technique I use to cope with why we live in Michigan during the winter months.
And eventually everyone will feel fine again. We will get on with life, and we will accept the ups and downs we always anticipated living would entail. If we are lucky, we have someone to ride this road with us. We will take turns losing our minds and finding our way back again. It is easier when at least one of us still has our sense of direction intact.
We talk so often about how to help our kids through the rough patches, and how we cope as individuals with the challenges we face. When we are at our best, we come together as a community to support each other. At our worst, we tear each other apart. As a parenting team, the same rules apply. We are our own best support system, and also an ever present source of anxiety. But if we are doing anything right, the good outweighs the bad in immeasurable ways.
This is one of the few things I know for sure.