“Aaauuuggghhh!” The high pitched scream was coming from down the hall. ‘Aaauuuggghhh!”, this time louder and longer. I had heard that scream before. I knew what it meant. He was frustrated and angry. The intermittent screams became one long continuous shriek only interrupted by his gasps to fill his lungs to fuel the next one.
Minutes later, I saw two teachers gently carrying the boy under his arms to a room so he could calm down. I knew that he was upset about something, but couldn’t adequately verbalize it. In his frustration, he did the only thing he knew to do when things where scary, unnerving, or just out of the norm, he screamed. And once the screaming started, he, like many kids similar to him, didn’t know how to calm himself.
As I watched him, tears began to flood my eyes. My heart broke for him, feeling frustrated and anxious. My heart went out to the teachers who were calmly trying to help to no avail. But, mostly, I cried for his mom.
I cried for the phone call or note home she would receive telling her that things did not go well for her son. It would outline what happened before the incident, what the teachers tried to do, and what ultimately helped him come out of his meltdown. I know all about those phone calls and notes. I had received many myself.
I wondered. Would this one be just one more in a long line of notifications? Would she question her parenting and the choices she’s made for her child? Would another wave of grief roll in to remind her that her son functions differently than other kids? Would she have someone to support and encourage her? Would she feel alone and isolated? Would she feel like a failure?
I know those thoughts. I know those feelings. I so wanted to find her, look deep into her eyes, and remind her of some truths.
You are doing a good job.
I know sometimes you think you’re failing and it feels like your drowning, but you are doing good, so much better than you think. The fact that you are in the fight, speaks volumes. You keep at it, asking questions, reaching out for help, researching new therapies and treatments, trying new things and new tools, acquiring new skills. You keep advocating, pushing, and pursuing. All the while loving your child in the midst of being tired, frustrated, and just plain weary.
Let yourself grieve
This is a hard road to walk. Its filled with disappointments and unfulfilled dreams. Its okay to grieve. Its okay to be sad. Its okay to be mad. This is not the time to try to ignore the pain by finding someone who has it worse. Acknowledge your feelings. Work through them. And remember that grief does what it does best; it sneaks up on you at inopportune moments, especially when you’re not expecting them. Give yourself permission and time to feel the feelings. Cry the tears. Scream out the frustration and anger. Just don’t take up residence.
Take care of yourself
It’s easy to let the urgency of appointments, homework, therapies, and life rule your schedule leaving little to no time for you. Remember, though, you are vitally important. You can’t pour into your child or children if you are drained and have nothing to give. This is an ultra marathon. You will need strength and energy for the long haul. Find something that feeds you, that fills you physically, emotionally, spiritually. Try yoga, prayer, meditation, reading, painting, running, boxing, whatever works.
Ask for help
I know, I know, it’s hard to ask for help. This is the time to be brave and do it anyway. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or incapable or less than. God created us to be in community, helping each other. We aren’t meant to do life alone. And I guarantee you, there are people who want to love you well and help, they just need permission to step in.
Find your people
Reach out to other parents who have kids with special needs. They know what this journey takes. They can provide you with that understanding look that tells you, you are not alone. Find some parents who are further down the path. Their insights, wisdom, and perspective are invaluable. Find parents who are newer to the journey. While you offer the encouragement and support they need, it’s a reminder of all that you have survived and just how far you and your child have come.
You and your child will be okay
I know there are days when you think you won’t make it and all is lost. You’re searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, but that tunnel is so long. You’re not even sure you will survive. You can. You will not only survive this, but you and your child can learn to thrive. Life may look very different from what you dreamed of or what you wanted, but it can be full of love, strength, courage, and gratefulness.
Moms, if you’re reading this and you’re in the thick of battle, weary and tired, please know that you’re not alone. I see you. And I know this is hard, harder than you could have imagined. So hold on to these truths; write them down if you need. Put them on your mirror. Put them on your wall. Then share them. Share them with other weary moms, reminding them they aren’t alone. You’ll likely find them in the vicinity of screaming kids.