“Motherhood (and Fatherhood) is about raising – and celebrating – the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that s/he is exactly the person s/he is supposed to be. And that, if you’re lucky, s/he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” ~The Water Giver*
I saw this posted on the Facebook page of one of my favorite mentors, Janice Masters, and it inspired me to delve a bit further
and reflect on the quote as it relates to my own life.
After experiencing your child’s meltdown #42 for the week, have you ever caught yourself feeling envious of other parents? Having thoughts such as, “It must be nice to be able to go to a restaurant with your child!” or “I really wish I could travel with my children – other people get to go on vacation!” Maybe you’ve gone so far as to wonder what your life would be like if your child was (gulp) “normal”.
After these thoughts take residence in your head, have you also been consumed by guilt shortly afterward as I have? First of all, do NOT beat yourself about it! These thoughts are completely understandable when you have a special needs child. It does not mean you don’t love your child or that you wish he were someone else. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, even if you occasionally feel you’ve been robbed of the child-rearing experience you were hoping for.
However, since an expectation is often a resentment waiting to happen, we do sometimes need to give our perspective a little shake and examine how often these thoughts are dominating our mind.
Please know I am not saying it is not challenging to parent a child on the Autism spectrum. Believe me! But maybe if you tried on a couple of different views for size – see how they feel – some aspects of the way you interact with your child might shift.
(in honor of Janice, ask yourself) What if…
- You were to give yourself permission to feel your feelings and observe your thoughts – all of them? Could you then release them after acknowledging them?
- You were to look for the gift amidst the challenge?
- You were to make a list of all the positive, amazing traits you see in your child?
- You were to sit back and watch your child play, seeing how in tune they are with the present moment and their desires?
- You were able to allow extra time in your schedule to dawdle and not rush so much?
- You could loosen some of the traditional beliefs and values that no longer serve you and start some new traditions with your child that make sense for who you both are today?
- You started capitalizing on your child’s strengths instead of focusing on correcting the perceived deficits?
- You were to start going easier on yourself and begin to follow your own bliss?
I challenge you just take a few of these questions and see how they feel for you. Let me know if you notice any changes in your home by posting in the comments below or on my Facebook page – I’d LOVE to hear your experiences!
I’ll leave you with this:
“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities — always see them, for they’re always there.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
totally agree, but it’s easier said than done: it only took us 6 years to learn these and actually execute them. And we are a much happier family and our son is a much happier child that others consider quirky yet fun.
Thanks for your comment, CJ! I know it is easier said than done… I still falter from time to time. I am glad your family has found a way to be happy : )