It is necessary to bring attention to the mental state of all the moms who are caring for children with special needs right now. There’s a lot of talk about the difficulties of homeschooling, but nobody is really ringing the alarm about the state of mind of a special needs parent. For parents raising children with special needs, quarantine hasn’t been a challenge, it’s been undoable.
The gap between education for neurotypical children and neuro-diverse children has always been appallingly wide but COVID-19 came in and made a landmine field out of educating children with special needs from home. There are really no words to express the difficulties I’ve encountered while trying to homeschool my own children with enhanced needs. The best I can come up with is… unnerved. At this point I don’t even know who I am. The triumphant women I always considered myself has been drop kicked and I am still face down on the pavement.
There are so many mothers out there that have had their mental stability tested and the truth is some of us broke under the pressure. Though we are a powerful breed there is a limited amount of blows we can take before the foundation starts to crack. And that’s exactly what we are, aren’t we ladies? The foundation.
We are what our children’s lives depend upon. We are solid and unafraid of any storm because we know we have precious cargo that’s not like the other cargo. They need a lot of help to get to their destination– a personal escort if you would. If we don’t keep a close watch, they’ll never make it.
So into the COVID-19 storm we swam, not really knowing what to expect, but certainly not this. This plunged some of us back into the dark holes we fight to stay out of daily. Quarantine has proved to be a master player but I believe there is enough fight in us to make a last stand. So, I implore you to take a moment to do a little cleansing of the mind. Reload your arsenal. Remind yourself who you are: a champion. You’re not the only one face down on the pavement with a few teeth knocked out. We all took a big hit. Lesson learned, now it’s time to move on.
1. STOP FEELING GUILTY AND BLAMING YOURSELF for having a child with delays. Your child is beaming with life and you have everything they need to help them thrive.
2. STOP BEING SO ANGRY because of what is going on now, or what has happened in the past. At this point you can’t change the way your child thinks. You can’t change all the work that goes into raising them. There is no magic wand to wave to reduce the load. Remember you are their strong foundation. You must adapt and rise to the occasion; be the champion you are!
3. COMMIT 100%. Right now, more than ever, we have all had a lot of time to think about the future with our enhanced children. The fear of not knowing how to care for them when they’re older can be daunting. Being in quarantine has provided plenty of time for our imagination to run away. You may be afraid they won’t be independent by the time they are adults or maybe you’re wondering how you will afford placing them in a facility\home. But how about considering the long haul? We are in this together. As your parent I’m not going to push you to be what you’re not. I’m going to push you to be your best! And if you still need me when you’re 30, then here I will be.
4. LIGHTEN UP! Our children will be who they are. Your arm flapping, noise making, restricted diet darling loves you and needs you to help them navigate the world. So why not enjoy teaching them? Stop rushing around and slow down, have some fun.
5. LEARN THE LESSONS.There is so much to be learned from children who have any kind of different need. They are brimming with information and have pretty unique ways of looking at life. This is the part we as caregivers miss. We are so determined on getting through things that we are missing joyous moments. The funny moments. The priceless lessons because we’re in charge, right? Nope. COVID-19 should be a clear example that we are not. That perhaps is why it’s been so unnecessarily hard. Because we are really not the ones in control. It really is their world and we should be learning how to live in it.
My last bit of encouragement to you would be not to come out of this angry, frustrated and bitter. COVID-19 is just one moment in time. Although it may be one we never forget I believe that this was a time of exposure. Not just for us but for the entire country. We can all look back and see areas of weakness that need to be repaired or even reinvented. And for us as moms to children with enhanced needs we have to stay focused for the sake of the ones in our care. So, pinpoint your areas of need, relax and work on getting better. We are are all in this together!