Inside the Late-Night Mind of a Mom to a Child With Special Needs


9 p.m.

It is that magical hour when my three kids are asleep and I have the TV all to myself. I should go to bed. My mind starts spinning. Where do I have to be tomorrow? I check my phone… early morning work meeting… need to call the health insurance company about a bill… baby Claire has a therapy appointment, oh and my son’s soccer game. What am I forgetting? Crap. kindergarten registration for my middle daughter, Kate. I’m late. OK, I must to do that. But is Kate ready for kindergarten? What if the other kids are mean to her because she looks different? Gosh, I hate mean girls. What if Kate gets the one kindergarten teacher I don’t like? OK, need to write a letter to the principal about her potential teacher as well as register for kindergarten. I should do this now. No, no I should go to bed. I don’t want to think about any of this, so I’ll just watch a few episodes of “House Hunters” instead.  

10 p.m.

OK, turn the TV off. I should really go to bed. Does Kate have show and tell tomorrow? Yes, tomorrow is Friday so I can’t forget to remind her about that. Oh, and I need to pay those therapy bills. I owe them a lot of money. Can I just pay them in installments? I wonder if that’s OK. I should work more and make more money. Why can’t I take on more responsibility at work and work more hours? Oh wait, Claire has a therapy appointment tomorrow so I need to email my boss that I won’t be in on time… check phone, might as well check Facebook. See photo of my sister’s newborn and how she’s having trouble getting him to sleep. Well, while I’m on Facebook let’s see what the rest of the world is doing…

11 p.m.

It’s officially late. I’m going to bed. I douse myself in essential oils hoping sleep will come. My mind is still racing. I am not tired. Claire is not getting enough therapy. She refuses to use her right arm and is still not walking. I need to do more with her. I’m not doing enough. I would do a better job than her babysitter. I should quit my job and stay home with her. But how will we pay our bills? We should move to a smaller, cheaper house. That’s it. We will move, and then I will stay home with Claire. But I don’t want to quit my job. And I want to go on vacation. Man, I need a vacation. Oh, but we couldn’t take Claire out too far in case she got sick. I don’t trust other hospitals. They don’t know or understand her condition. What if Claire gets sick this year like last? How would we pay for a hospital stay? OK, I have to keep working to pay Claire’s medical bills. Why am I still not asleep? 

Midnight.

Sleep is not coming. I go to my medicine cabinet and look at the array of sleep aids. I don’t want to take one. Why can’t I shut my mind off like “normal” people? What if I become addicted to sleep aids? Which pill will give me the least drug-induced hangover in the morning? What if I can’t hear Claire if she cries? OK, OK, I will take half of this one pill. I will wake up if she cries. But first I should go check on her to make sure she’s still breathing. What if she stops breathing and I don’t wake up? I must sleep, or tomorrow will be that much harder. Maybe I will just lay down on her floor next to her crib so I will wake up if she wakes up.

I take my pill, I lay down on her floor, and I sleep.  

Tomorrow is another day.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Share with us the moment, if you’ve had it, where you knew everything was going to be OK. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

Lisa Ingrassia and her father

My First Father’s Day Without My Dad

One of my father’s greatest gifts was his ability to love others unconditionally, flaws and all. When I would complain to him about my perception of one’s ignorance, he would always smile and say, “Lisa honey, ignore them. Be happy.” If you Google “First Father’s Day Without Dad,” you will instantly get inundated with post after post. It’s early June, [...]
Wooden gavel and stethoscope

California Becomes Fifth State to Give Terminally Ill Residents the 'Right to Die'

As of Thursday, California joins Washington, Oregon, Vermont and Montana as the fifth state affording its terminally ill residents the “right to die.” Through its “End of Life Option Act,” terminally ill people living in California can legally end their lives in their own homes. According to the act, “terminally ill” is defined as having six [...]

The Narrative Needs to Change Around Parenting Children With Special Needs

I’ve spent a lot of time reading blogs over the past few years regarding disability and disease. Much of that time I’ve spent also reading blogs about parenting children with special needs. The over-running theme in many of these articles is one of burden and sadness. While I don’t disagree that it is hard to [...]
Ill woman sitting with young sympathetic nurse

To the Nurse Who Saw How Scared I Really Was in the Hospital

Dear Nurse, I’ve always hated hospitals even if I was being admitted for something simple, like a round of tests. I would still be terrified. This past October I was admitted for that exact reason, more tests. I had to change respirologists because I wasn’t being followed at my local hospital anymore and I had [...]