When You Think About All the Things You Were Supposed to Do Today as a Special Needs Mum
By 4 p.m., the panic sets in.
I begin to think about dinner, cleaning up, baths, stories, and hopefully bedtime, and I realize yet another day has passed and things don’t feel like they’ve changed much. When my children eventually settle to sleep, my mind will run through all the missed opportunities, all the forms I never quite had time to fill in and all the moments I left my children to entertain themselves. Did I do enough today to help them? Did I do any of the exercises the physiotherapist told me I should? Did I ensure my daughter had her insoles in to correct the turn in her feet? Did I teach them anything or encourage any social skills?
Even if I did something, was it enough?
If I read my children’s speech reports I am reminded of all the times today I forgot to use pictures to reinforce understanding, and why do I suddenly remember all about makaton signs the second my child has fallen asleep?
Then I remind myself I am not a speech and language therapist. Even more important, I am not my child’s speech and language therapist. I am his mum. I can never be “enough” for his speech and language development, as that is not my speciality. What parent can say they honestly do all the exercises with their speech-delayed child all the time?
If I read my child’s physiotherapy report, my heart sinks. We never did those leg strengthening exercises she hates or invented games that require rolling. When I was busy cooking I noticed she was sitting in that “W” shape again and I left her too it. I didn’t do enough. Actually I don’t think I have ever done enough to satisfy her physical needs. I feel guilt about that daily, but then I am sure all parents feel like this sometimes? Maybe it is just me?
I left my nonverbal son to watch videos on his iPad today. Not the most ideal thing, according to therapists I know, but sometimes I just can’t do it all. I even put my two autistic children in the car and went somewhere today without first reading them a social story about it, showing visuals and going through the route on Google Street maps. No brownie points for me today.
The fact is, they survived. I survived. We lived to see another day, and yes I will always feel guilt at what we didn’t do in terms of therapy or research or exercises, but in many other ways I was more than enough for my children today.
They had more than enough of my time.
They had more than enough to eat and drink.
They have more than enough toys and technology.
They have more than enough clothes to wear.
They have more than enough access to medical and educational support.
They have more than enough love.
Fellow special needs mum, remember this: never let any professional make you feel less than enough. Never let your child’s struggles make you feel less-than as a parent. You are enough! Your love, encouragement, support and dedication will be enough. Did you make it through another day? You were enough today, and you will be enough tomorrow.
This post originally appeared on Firefly.