I have a confession to make.
I always feel like I could be doing more.
More therapy at a clinic. More therapy at home. More education. More appointments with new specialists. More hands-on time with both kids. More creative projects. More time spent working on speech and learning. More, more, more.
I spend so much time writing to-do lists and daily schedules so I can squeeze as much as possible into each and every day. Because I made the decision to take on Solly’s education this year, I’m working tirelessly to get him caught up with what his peers are doing, to make sure he doesn’t start his public school experience, whenever that will be, more behind than he already is. My entire life right now, every waking moment of every day, revolves around Solly’s care and education. And being a good Mama to Bea. And taking care of all the household everything.
And you know what? I’m exhausted. At the end of every day, I’m tired beyond belief, struggling to keep my eyes open past 9 pm, and when I wake the next morning, I feel an almost sense of dread, that I’m Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and I’m going to repeat the same day over again without getting anywhere.
Part of my feelings are fueled by seeing how other special needs parents are incorporating school work and therapy into their day at home, as showcased on social media. Part of it is because during many of Solly’s appointments, all I hear is things I could be doing to help him. Part of it is the need to feel like I’m constantly doing something, so when Mike comes out of the office for a break after working so hard all day, he can see that I’ve been working hard, too. Part of it is because I’m a gosh darn overachiever and no matter what I’m doing in life, I feel like I’m not doing enough. I fully realize that my feeling of not doing, of not being enough comes from within and is not a truthful representation of real life. But, still, it’s hard to ignore that little voice inside me that constantly whispers “more, more, more.”
Despite what I see on social media, I know so many other special needs parents are going through the exact same set of emotions as I am, and the pandemic only intensifies those feelings. Social media is helpful in so many ways, but harmful, too, because it’s just a curated snapshot of one moment in time, allowing viewers to imagine that the rest of that person’s life is just as perfect, every second of the day. I recognize that perhaps some people could view my social media posts similarly, which is part of the reason I started writing this post.
While Solly was with his therapist recently at NAPA Center, I sat and chatted with two other Moms (masked and 10+ feet apart, mind you) and we couldn’t stop commenting about how hard things are right now, given the pandemic. As tough as the topic of our conversation was, it felt so good to speak with other people who could relate to my exact situation. We kept pointing to each other, saying “I don’t know how you do it! You’re amazing! Your kids are doing so well!” These simple conversations gave me strength. Sometimes it takes an amazing parent to know an amazing parent. We’re all doing the very best that we can and, despite what we tell ourselves throughout the day, our kids are thriving because of it.
I recognize that this post is a rambling one, but rambling feels like a good representation for parenting a disabled child during this never-ending pandemic. I don’t have an answer to fix this nagging feeling inside of me – a feeling that I know most other special needs parents are also feeling during this time. All I know is that when I start feeling like this, instead of digging in and trying to do more, it’s a sign that I need to take a step back and do less. To take a few minutes to myself first thing in the morning so I can read a few chapters in a book and allow my mind a break from my day-to-day. To plan a hike for the weekend to get the family out of the house so we can breathe some fresh air and explore. To set my alarm clock a little earlier so I can run a few miles before the kids wake up because, for some reason, my mind and body function much better when I exercise. It seems counterproductive, but I recognize that if I push too hard, I’ll burn myself out and I’ll burn my kids out in the process and then NO one will be happy or successful.
So today, I’m allowing myself to take a break. I’ll turn on the TV for the kids or let Solly and Bea play unattended in the playroom while I write out my thoughts or skim a few pages of the book sitting on my nightstand. Something, anything, to give my brain a rest so I can be a better Mom to my kids and know that I’m doing enough for them.
To other parents who are reading this and who feel like you aren’t doing enough, regardless of where your kids are in life, please know, you are amazing. You are doing enough. You are enough.