When I Want to Answer 'How Are You?' Honestly as a Special Needs Mom

“How are you doing today?” is a common greeting. Most of the time we say “fine” and move on.  It doesn’t seem that anyone is really interested in finding out how we feel anymore anyway. I used to be like that too.  As a former teacher I would ask parents that question, feign interest, and move on with my day.

But things aren’t the way they used to be anymore.  Today when I ask that question I genuinely want to know how you are. What?  Someone really wants to know?  Yes, I do. The reason changed because I changed.

Being a parent of two children with multiple needs changes you as a person. It also changes how you interact with others and perceive the world around you.

So when others ask how I am, you may still get the brief “I’m fine,” but in reality how I am shifts from day to day. Some days I’m frustrated. All right, a lot of days I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated because I get calls to go out for XYZ activity and “just bring the kids along.” People don’t understand it’s not that simple. Events take planning and time for our family. I need a week or more to pack medical supplies, change appointments so my children can be rested and fully enjoy the activity, to check and see if there are food options (lots of food allergies in our family), and if places are wheelchair friendly (many are not here).

I’m frustrated because I’ve just spent all day on the phone with insurance, doctors, and more doctors. I’ve had to argue that my daughter needs a better IEP, that my son’s psychologist’s office has stairs and they are refusing to follow ADA codes. Most days I feel like I have half a million frustrating moments. I never get enough sleep.

I’m also proud. My kids have done things people said they could not do. When my son is able to articulate what he needs and advocate for himself, and when my daughter holds her head up and takes those small shaky steps, I’m proud. These kids blow my mind. They are going to take the world by storm.

So the next time you ask me how I am, be prepared. I just may have a lot to say.

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