Sunday, September 15, 2013

Parenting Special Needs/ aka /The Water Park Analogy

This last weekend I went on a little jaunt to my old stomping grounds with three of my children.
It was a much needed break for all four of us.

One daily practice I try to do, regularly post on Facecrack Facebook, is 5 daily gratitude's, 6 or 7 on more “trying days” where I really need to hunt for the hopeful and good in my daily chaos.

 Last Friday night, after pediatrician visit complete with immunizations, a grueling chiropractor visit and a two hour drive complete with a yowling terrified kitten and a over tired tender legged 3 year old I landed at my friends home to open arms, free range fun for my kids, chocolate, and taco salad.

That night on F.B. Along with my gratitude’s I joked that;

“It's 10 o I know where my children are?
Old stompin grounds, surviving Peds appointments with shots, Just sittin', safe travels, carefree plans tomorrow, watching my oldest giggle with very much missed BFF's...did I mention I am JUST SITTING, AND I don't know where all my children are? “

I thought nothing of it and continued to enjoy my carefree night, in fact I think 2 out of the 3 munchkins ran, jumped and played themselves into a stupor and passed out/fell asleep around one a.m. In the morning.
Parenting vacation MAGIC people.

The next morning I had a message in my Facebook inbox.

“Hey Linds, I have a weird question for you. I love reading your Gratitude’s, and sometimes read your blog. I know your life is hectic, but I don't get how you consider having 3 kids STILL with you a “night off”? Are you nuts? My two are Kicking my butt. P.S. How do you manage to get away as often as you do, don't you feel guilty?
Love you gurl,

I laughed, a little, sent her some love and thought about her message yesterday, not having the time to fully respond with all my mad thrifting skilz and poppn' tags rush for the 7 birthdays that are stalking me like jaws in the next 6 weeks. So I thought about her questions on my drive home this morning, thinking “Hey I'll send her a little note, trying to explain.

THEN I walked through my door, finally home after driving for two hours in construction, sandwiched between semi's I was met with screaming and crying, gnashing teeth, and keeling whale moans deep with in the bowels of our home.

Welcome home.
At least Mable our Saint Bernard was very happy to see me.

Five children rushed me, patting me down for gum and M&M's like a drug lord trying to get through customs.
I was told by a very dis-regulated child that they had been stung by a BEE while I was gone and it was all my fault.
BUT the bee sting had magically disappeared.
Three minutes later I was told that they also had the flu and threw up all night.
Yet were fine to eat the treat I had brought.
There was wailing, chronic tattling, a full report of urinating in bedrooms, bed wetting, food missing, toys broken and epic tantrums.
Yada,yada,yada...old news, smold mnews.

I was gone for less than 48 hours.

So THAT, Sweet “A”....that was what my break was from.
And that was when I started to think of a way to describe, what “getting away” really means to me, and so many other parents and caregivers that parent trauma, special needs and chronic illnesses.

How do you explain to a parent of neuro typical children how parenting a child with special needs is similar and also so very different?

Have you ever taken a busy, hyper, easily distracted eighteen month old to a water park?
The entire time you are hovering, making sure they don't face plant, fall into the deep end, get plowed into by older kids, eat floating band aids, keep well sun blocked, eat more than grapes and potato chips. You keep them from taking neighboring park dwellers food, toys, sunglasses and pulling your suit down to flash the un-expecting pre-teen boy that just got a free eye full, no worries the other end has a full wedgie, as you non nonchalantly try to reign in your Tasmanian devil that just splashed you in the face and you are pretty sure you lost your left contact . It is a given there will be at least one melt down over, being over hungry, tired, or as fate would have it you running to the bathroom and while in your partners care, your child indeed does the face plant and skins half of their nose and chin off.
If by chance your cool aide drunk, Cheetos stained, grubby, sweaty ball of energy does actually pass out, you sit and rest, knowing you can't really fall asleep, in case they wake with a second wind, so you lay there exhausted, with one eye open.
By the end of the day, you are glad you went, revel in the good moments and barely have the physical strength after bending over all day to get all of their gear into the car, and there is no emotional energy to even think about what you are going to wrestle up for dinner.
Eh, you have a freezer meal ready to go, or a go-to-easy-meal.
Ice Cream sounds like a divine reward for surviving the day.
You can all shower tomorrow the pool = bath, right?
Now in my case, time those toddlers by 6, and add three more semi self-sufficient kids in there for fun.

THAT IS A GOOD DAY parenting special needs kids.
It is rewarding fun, yet regardless, hard, busy, all consuming and takes every single inch of you and your attention.

On a bad day?
Turn that jovial 18 month old into a teething, colicky 3 month old baby that will only sleep in their bed with diarrhea and a double ear infection, at the water park, by yourself.
With a handful other 3 month old babies, a couple 18 month olds, and 3 semi-sufficient kids that want attention and think it is STUPID I brought the babies to the pool.


You buy fast-food on the way get everyone in bed, some kids might be sleeping in their swimsuits... not that you care,they are asleep and no one is bleeding.
You eat that ice cream straight out of the container with a spoon, or gluten free pretzels as a utensil, mindlessly watching Parenthood reruns on Netflix until the bliss of numbness falls over you and realize, your 3 year old is asleep on your legs and you have to pee.
No worries the babies will need to eat every three to four hours anyway and have you up.

Now imagine doing that days in a row.
The good days and the bad.
That is kinda what I am talking about.

Taking 3 busy semi-sufficient kids anywhere, that I don't have to hover over, worry about boundaries, medical issues, tantrums, triggers, is a break. Not only for me, but for them too.

For me to sit and talk for hours, is bliss.
Listening to children play, minus control battles and needing to be in eye sight is a hyper-vigilant rest to a one eye open sleeping parent.

I love my children, every single one of them.
As they heal more and more, or gain tools that help them be more self sufficient, the more breaks for myself may be less and less needed.

But for now, I do need my mini vacations.

I believe in self care for all parents, absolutely.
Primary caregivers NEED breaks, primary caregivers to children with special needs, have to take care of themselves, have to find respite, have to find moments to shut both eyes or they will be no good in their daily tasks, they will burn out.

I never EVER want my wonderful friends of Neuro typical kids to feel slighted in the “I have it much worse than you arena”...HECK NO!!!
Parenting period is hard, no kid is really “normal” all have special needs to get them going, keep them safe and teach them what they need to know. I not for one moment want to lessen the Kick Ass job parents in general do, my goodness, you people BLOW my mind with the soccer games, and family trips, the teething and colic and TEENAGERS...

Keep on keeping on.
Chest bump. High five, fist-bump-explosion-thingy.

I just thought this might be a small way to explain to my rockin' fellow mama and friend “A”...what the small difference was in my idea of what a “break” looks like when parenting special needs. Honey, lets be honest, a trip to the Gyno, or getting a MRI is considered a mini vaca some days.

Next time it should be in Hawaii, minus any short people, fore realz.

Come on in for another chest bump and ...fist-bump-explosion-thingy.

Yeah boss.

Love you gurl,


  1. One of my kids had an MRI last week, and I told my husband the night before, "it's sad that I'm looking forward to going to the hospital so I can have a couple hours to myself."

    I get it.

  2. LOVE it!

    Right. There. With. You.

    It's a DREAM to "only" take a couple of kids somewhere. :)

    I, too, get bombarded for "getting away" so often (one blog reader even ripped me for spending money on gas to drive to lunch with an in-the-trenches blog friend).

    If I don't have a coffee date with a friend EVERY FEW MONTHS . . . and a night or two away ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR . . . I may completely collapse (not good for me or my family).

    Keep taking care of yourself, or you won't be able to take care of your family.

    Do you ever get ripped for "favoring" your semi-self-sufficient kids and "loving them more"? That's not a fun one, either.

    Keep on keeping on!

    mama of 12

  3. Ugh, that's such crap (@Mama Ds Dozen). It often seems to me that the people (not just mamas) who are judgmental about taking time for oneself and recharging might be jealous because they do not do that. Still not okay to sling the mud though. Kudos to you, LIndsay & Shecki for pushing through the crap. -Emma

  4. You have no idea how much I need you to say this. I am still reeling from a tongue lashing (you don't treat him the same, he is not well loved that way he acts this way, he targets you because you are mean to him)that lasted for an hour. I am drained, exhausted and tired and wondering if I am the crazy one. Gee, maybe I am just plain mean and the kids never had a chance? If one more person tells me "All kids are that way" or some such nonsense I may lose it. So often you talk me off the edge. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  5. I read this beautiful truth today, and I wanted to share it with you all: