Parenting the atypical child is hard. Not like “algebra” hard. Not like “piles of laundry” hard. Like childbirth hard. Like “climbing Mount Everest without a guide” hard. Just hard. All.the.time.
There are so many thoughts that I have on a regular basis that I wish I could shout from a megaphone, so people could understand us a little better; her and I. My battle partner. The girl who came into my life unannounced and taught me more than all my college professors combined.
I wish people knew how her brain works. So beautifully different at times, and so painfully different at times. She is different. Not on the outside, on the inside. You can’t tell by looking at her, or even talking to her, but if you take the time to get to know her, you’ll see it. It’s not her fault. Her brain works differently than ours.
I wish they would let me defend her, before making judgments about my parenting style, or her behavior. I wish they knew how hard I try every day to help her be her best self. All the books I’ve read, classes I’ve attended, seminars I’ve listened to, and professionals I’ve consulted with. I don’t need advice, I need some grace.
I wish they knew that sometimes I just get plain exhausted from it, and it appears as if I don’t care that she’s acting a fool. I do care, it’s just, I’ve been working on this for years, and when you have been climbing the same flipping mountain for years, it gets exhausting.
I wish they knew how their words affect her. She knows how you feel about her. She thinks she’s a bad kid, and it takes all my energy to convince her otherwise, so that she can try to be better tomorrow.
For those who do take time to understand, to ask questions and to care…you have no idea how much you’ve helped. I cry when you come around. I cry when you show that you care about us, because in that moment, I feel less alone in this battle.
In fact, I cry a lot. I cry when her doctor asks how I’m doing, because it’s never been about me. Every day I hold it together and stay strong, through thick and thin. I’m the mom, and my job is to hold it all together. But then you ask me how I’m doing, and I cry, because it’s so frickin hard.
For every teacher, doctor, therapist, friend, family member, and babysitter (come on Jesus, those babysitters are my heroes!) You all are on my personal Wall of Fame. You stuck by us when others couldn’t handle it. You loved her through her bad behavior and fits of rage. You saw what I see in her, that beautiful soul deep down inside.
Parenting the atypical child is not a phase. It’s not a job that you get time off from, or weekends away from. It’s something that may go on forever, and the thought of it possibly getting harder is a little frightening.
But I’ll make it. I’m still standing after seven hard years. I haven’t given up on her, and I never will. I pray that someday she will be whole and healed, but if that day never comes until heaven, and if I spend the rest of my life climbing this mountain, I will never leave her side. I will never stop fighting for her best self, the innocent soul who didn’t ask to be different, and did nothing to deserve the hand that she was dealt. My battle partner. Together we will face every day, every trial, every new issue with faith and grit. And if the whole world turns against her, she will always know that mommy never will.
To all my friends who are parenting atypical children- I get it. You are not alone. You are part of an army of soldiers climbing this mountain together. We have been given an assignment that many could not handle, but it’s making us stronger, wiser, and more humble as we learn from these incredible young souls that God has entrusted to us. So press on tough one, this is a battle worth fighting for.