My head has been in overdrive lately. We've had a lot of comments about Charlie and how I'm an awesome mom (which I agree!) but it all gets a little overwhelming. Sometimes people act like I'm superhuman for what I do. I'm really not. I'm just a regular mom who loves my kids and will do anything for them. I think it's hard for people to imagine how they would manage in my situation. It's not just the sleepless nights and confusing med schedules, but the emotional stress as well. Before I had Charlie, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be the parent of a special needs kid. You see a child, who sucks all their parent's energy, causes a lot of stress, demands more attention than a typical kid, and then you don't even get the reward of watching them leave the house, become a functioning member of society, and giving you grandkids! I think this is how people see it. I did and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Up until recently, I even wondered...where's MY reward? I'm putting in all this work, and she's not even expected to survive childhood!
It all dawned on me last week. Charlie is not a more difficult child than Adrian. She's just different. She's not MORE work, just different work. She's not MORE stress, just different stress. She doesn't demand MORE attention, just different attention. No, she won't give me grandkids, but hey, that's what Adrian is for! LOL
So we all know everyone loves their kids but also gets very annoyed with them, tired of them, stressed out by them, ect. Here's the difference with a special needs kiddo...
I will never, ever have to discipline Charlie. I won't have to worry if I'm using the right method. I won't have to worry that I'm causing harm by being too harsh, or harm for being too lenient. I won't have to stick her in time out, listening to her pleads of "I'll be good mama, I promise!" I'll never have to threaten to take away her toys, or ground her for sneaking out when she's a teenager. There is NO worry that I'll be unleashing a menace to society because I screwed up somewhere along the way.
I don't have to worry about her nutrition. Of course, I know she's not getting the best, but it's the best I can do, and it involves popping open a can and counting scoops. Hardly taxing. With Adrian, I'm counting servings of fruits and veggies, trying to figure out if raisins actually count towards his 5 a day, or if it's a problem when he'll only eat PB sandwiches for a week. I'll never have to convince her "one more bite" or worry when she doesn't eat for 18 hours straight. I won't have to worry about the preteen stage where they want to eat only junk food and sit on their butts all day. I won't have to worry that she's getting chubby and figure out how to get her healthy again without damaging her self-esteem.
I won't have to hear her beg for the latest game boy, only to have to break her heart when I tell her we can't afford it. I won't have to worry that I'm spoiling her or not giving her enough. A child like Charlie is impossible to spoil. She doesn't know that the $6 toy I bought her last week is cheaper than all the fancy ones that make noise and light up. She loves what she loves.
I'll never get kicked in the head by her when I decide to let her sleep in my bed (Adrian, however, will be moving out of my bed VERY soon!).
I never have to worry about potty-training and catching accidents and carrying spare clothes everywhere. If we DO start teaching her to use the potty, it will always be with assistance, so that pretty much eliminates the "accident" part of it.
I'll never have to tell a white lie that the medicine "really does taste like cherries" and then have my face splattered with sticky goo when she realizes it really, really doesn't.
I won't have to worry sick about her getting her license, or her first boyfriend. Or about teen pregnancy or drinking. I won't have to worry she will be like me as a teen. LOL
I'll never have to worry about her grades, or threaten that she'll never get into a good college if she doesn't straighten up. Or worry that she'll end up being a burger flipper for the rest of her life. Or something else admirable, but completely dangerous, like a storm chaser (Adrian is already fascinated and will do that if his plans A and B fall through).
I'll never have to deal with her throwing a tantrum and kicking me and screaming, "I hate you mommy!".
She'll never, ever disappoint me.
I could go on and on. I can't believe it's taken me this long to "get it". She's almost 2 and I'm just now realizing the WONDERFUL things about her that makes parenting her easier, not harder. Of course, I always appreciated the little things, like the smiles, or when she "asks" for me. But the reward? Knowing I can't screw up. Literally, it's impossible. Sure, I can accidentally miss a med dose, or mix her formula wrong, but those aren't lasting things. She's the easy one to parent, because I can give her all the love in the world and that's all she really needs. My other kid is the one I have to worry about. ;-) Oh I'm sure he'll turn out alright. But there's always the chance that I'll mess up somewhere and he'll be living in my basement at 30. With Charlie, if she somehow lived that long, it wouldn't be a failure if she was living with me...it's EXPECTED and I'd probably be given even more praise for not putting her in a nursing home (which no one would blame me for after 30 years). I can do nothing wrong. LOL
Editing to add: I know some people are probably wondering how some of these things can seem like a good thing...I realize it's depressing to think she'll never walk, or have a job. These are things I got over a LONG time ago. You are never truly ok with any of it, but you accept the reality of it. When you accept the reality of it, then realize good can come from it, that's when you start to see all the wonderful things. :-)