To Anyone Who Feels Like They Suck at This Parenting Thing

Things last year were bad. My daughter, Molly, was not herself. She was a ball of rage and anxiety. We were late for school every day. She felt miserable, and we felt powerless. And most days, hopeless. It sucks to see your child suffering and not be able to fix it. Each visit to the pediatrician saw us looking more worn and dejected than the previous month’s visit. I remembering remarking to my husband that each day we were screwing up our kid more than the day before. I was afraid for each day to come because I felt like it was one more step down a one-way road that led away from the happy little girl she once was.

I’m sure we aren’t the only family who have experienced this feeling. The feeling that no matter how hard you try to do things right, things just keep getting worse. That you’re playing some kind of cruel game where there are six conflicting sets of instructions, and no winner exists. That you’re the worst parents in the world, and your daughter deserves someone who doesn’t suck at this, as much as you think you must suck for things to be this bad.

If anyone out there reading this is feeling like that – especially my fellow special needs mamas and papas – I want you to know that it does get better. You will find the magic key or the secret seventh instruction manual that tells you to ignore the other six. Or maybe it’s a dose of luck, change in circumstance or even just a new stage in development. Whatever it is, you’ll look back at the rough times you’re having now, and things will be so different that you’ll hardly be able to believe the bad times really happened.


You’ll also be a little afraid of jarring the snow globe you’re certain you must be living in for fear of shaking chaos into your life again.

You’ll hold your breath.

But you’ll be genuinely happy, and you’ll fall in love with your little girl all over again. You never stopped loving her, but now that your days aren’t spent in survival mode, you find yourself staring at her constantly and thinking what an amazing kid she is. You notice that she grew up when you weren’t looking.

And that scares the hell out of you.

But it’s also really cool.

Now I’m not delusional. I know not everything really does get better for everyone. But most things do. And just the hope that it will is often the only thing that matters.

We went to the pediatrician today, and it was so incredible to be there with good news.

Because it got better.

A version of this post appeared on Don’t Lick the Deck.

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