The last 3 Days I’ve introduced you to this complicated little person who has a Difficult Mind, neurodiverse as we like to say (more on that later this month) but we all know that when one person in a family struggles, everyone has to figure out how to adjust.
Let’s just clear the air of a few things right off the bat, I do not have super powers. I am about as regular as they come. I’m 5 foot 3 inches, wear jeans and a sweater most days, should probably highlight my hair but never manage to get around to it and I stay at home with my kids.
I’m not a great cook, I am an okay housekeeper and I’m only mildly creative. While I believe that I am uniquely made with a calling, it isn’t at all flashy. I roll out of bed with crazy hair and bad breath just like everyone else and really need a cup of coffee (or 7!) to get going. Nothing super human to see here!
What I will say is that moms (and dads) who deal with kids in the Difficult Mind space have adapted, we’ve learned to make it work. We’ve become a professional of sorts but not one that is trained, degreed or certified. We’ve learned by experience, because we live this life every day.
When people get to know me a little they find I am more than happy to answer questions about our life with our sweet boy. Here are some common questions and answers about the Difficult Mind and Difficult Mothering…
How do you do it?
One day at a time.
What worked yesterday may not work today. What we encounter today might change everything we do tomorrow.
There is a certain peace that comes in knowing today is uniquely its own.
How do you figure out what to do when something new/different/hard happens?
Watch and listen.
In the beginning I spent a lot of time reading books and blogs. Talking to therapists and school behavioral departments. Now I am armed with a barrage of knowledge. My job is to watch and listen and put that knowledge into practice. Being equipped is key to moving forward.
What can I do to help?
Nothing. That is what I used to say. In the beginning I did a horrible job of accepting help. It is a little humiliating to feel like you can’t parent your own child. Let me encourage you though, if a parent with a difficult child says “nothing”, keep asking, there is something you can do!
Now I accept help when it is offered, willingly and gladly. Here are some of the big helps…
- It is helpful to help our other kids. If my son is having a hard time and I need to deal with it and my other kids are around, play with them, distract them, help them. I can’t be with them at that exact moment and both they and I feel loved when someone is willing to be me for a few minutes. We don’t ever want the other kids to feel less than.
- It is helpful to treat my son like any other kid. Encourage him when he excels, kindly correct him when he missteps. One of our goals for him is to be a functioning person in this world, treating him as such helps him see himself that way.
- Food/Drinks/Treats. Food is always helpful, especially when my husband is working. Food shopping and prep and clean up takes up a huge amount of time. When I have to spend the first 45 minutes after school sifting through the leftover issues from the school day, I don’t have a whole lot of get up and go left. Some days a coke or coffee on your way to work or a surprise pizza delivery at just the right moment can change my whole day.
Is it hard?
Yes. Undeniably yes. Lately every single day has been hard in some way.
Yet when I think about it, isn’t everyone’s life difficult in one way or another? Kids get sick, jobs are lost, friendships get bumpy, marriage gets hard. Life, real life, has hard moments. My hard moment is my unique son but that doesn’t make me any better or worse or deserving or undeserving than anyone else, it just makes me human.
“Hope and sorrow in it all there’s rescue and there’s not.”
There’s Rescue: I have some amazing friends and family that make my job as a mama to our son so much easier. They bring meals, cry with me over coffee, send encouraging words, provide babysitting and speak truth when I need to hear it most.
I don’t do this alone, I have an incredible husband that does this with me. I can’t imagine a dad who cares more or tries harder. He is always willing to be the parent who steps in. He spends so much time doing the mundane things with our son when I just can’t anymore. And when he sees that I have reached that dark place, he sends me away to recharge and shoulders the parenting burden alone for a while.
I know a God that loves me unconditionally. The grace and peace that comes from knowing, in the deep places of my soul, that I am beloved and called. This carries me through.
There’s Not: I cry because it gets hard. Sometimes my body physically aches and pains from the amount of work it takes to manage our son. I can get caught up in the dark days and forget that I am beloved and called and only see darkness. This is my life, every day.
But today, today I am thankful that I am this mom to this boy because he is beloved too and I get to tell him that every single day, even on the hard ones.