To the Mom Wondering how she Will go on Today.

To the mom wondering how something you wanted so much is so incredibly harder than you imagined, and at times more tiring than you can handle.

To the mama hiding in the bedroom with the door shut, so no one sees her crying, makeup running down her face, but she comes back out with a smile in a few minutes.

To the mama wondering how am I going to keep doing this day in and day out.

To the mama who feels like she can’t take another step forward, who feels stuck and overwhelmed.

To the mama counting the seconds till bedtime.

To the mama who feels guilty over every thought that didn’t match her idea of being a good mother.

To the mom who feels she’s nothing but mom anymore.

To the mom who misses freedom.

Hold on.
It is worth it.
You are valuable.
You are priceless.
Your kids don’t see your flaws nearly as intensely as you do.
Your kids know they are loved.
Your kids trust you.
Your kids feel safe with you.
Your are doing a good job.
Maybe sometimes not stellar. 
But trust me, you’re doing better than you realize.

Cut yourself some slack today mama.

Every time you’ve ever felt that you couldn’t possibly go on,

you did.

You were able to then.

You are able to now.

Breathe mama.

Give yourself grace.

You aren’t called to never fail.

You are called to go on no matter how many times you do.

You can do it mama.

I believe in you.

Take another deep breath mama.

Wipe the tears form your own face today, as you have wiped them from your children so many times before.

You are worth so much, to your kids, and just for being who you are.

You are more able than you have believed.

You can do it,

and it’s worth it.

One day you’ll look back, and you will see, you taught your kids perseverance.

You taught your kids unconditional love and acceptance, by you not giving up.

You taught them it’s OK to not be perfect.

That messing up and trying again means so much more than that anyway.

And, you’ll thank yourself one day, when you see the effects of sticking with it.

It is tiring because you are doing your absolute best.

It is tiring because they matter to you deeply.

It is tiring for all the right reasons mama.

Because your heart is fully in it.

And it will be OK,

because you aren’t failing them,

by questioning if you can go on.

One day at a time mama.

I know you can do it.

I believe in you.

Hold on, and breathe.

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To the boy With Autism at my Son’s Camp. Thank you for Adjusting my Perspective.

“Mom, there’s a boy with autism at camp with me.”

Omar, my oldest son, who is not autistic, said this to me as we drove home from camp one day, over the summer. My youngest son, Lucas, has autism, and is 4 years old. Regular summer camp was not a suitable option for him, due to his intensive therapy routine. Also, it was due to my inability to feel safe with that option. Lucas needs one on one supervision constantly, for his safety, and also for the safety of others around him.

I know our therapy schedule is intense, but I am giving him the best chance, right? At least, that’s what I’ve researched, been told by professionals, and tell myself daily. I love my son, for who he is. But, when you get so lost in almost everything being therapy, you sometimes lose sight of other things. What is he missing out on instead?

It’s a fine line to walk.

But, back to my older son’s statement.

“There’s a boy with autism at camp with me.”

My older son was not going to a special needs camp. His words lingered in my head and in a pit in my stomach. Up until that point, I suppose I had ruled out Lucas ever attending a “regular camp, with kids without diagnoses.

I had assumed that the autism in him would make it too difficult, that he’d be too different.

He would have to be separate to be safe.

That sounds terrible, typing it, but it’s honest. I don’t want to take any chances with my son escaping or being somewhere that the people responsible for him don’t understand him, or know how to help him. So, I ruled out a typical camp for him. This was certainly the case for this summer. Had I even ruled it out for all years to come? Was I pigeonholing my son and putting limits on his potential? Shame on me.

This pushed me to face what I think my biggest fear has always been.

It’s not that my son won’t be capable of relationship and enjoyment with others, but that others won’t be capable of having, or possess the desire to have it with him.

Omar’s statement opened up the door to so many questions. I needed to know. How did things work out for child with autism at camp? Was it obvious that he struggled and was different from the other kids? Did he have triggers and meltdowns? Did other kids understand him? Did they try to? What did the teachers do if he had a meltdown? What did the other kids do? Did he participate in the camp activities? Did he ever run away?

And, I suppose the most important in my heart was, did he have friends?

Throughout the summer, Omar continued to answer my questions. He told me all about how the boy at camp sometimes wanted things exactly his way. This could be as simple as him getting very upset when someone casually grabbed “his” crayon, which he had carefully chosen. He sometimes yelled “NO!!” or hit another kid in close proximity, when he was upset about someone doing something he didn’t want. He’d frequently bump into people trying to get to what he wanted, or take it out of someone’s hand if they were already holding it. He’d also repeat things he liked, over and over, like climbing the ladder in the playground.

There were times where the boy at camp didn’t acknowledge social rules like waiting online, and he’d simply run to the front of the line to get on the slide. Then, he’d stay there, not letting other kids on after him. He needed extra supervision, so he wouldn’t run off into parts of the camp that weren’t in use during that particular activity. Many of the actions by the boy at camp are very familiar to me, with Lucas.

I proceeded to ask my son how HE treated this boy at camp.

Omar told me that he was not intimidated by the boy’s differences, by his behaviors, and by his outbursts, though they were sometimes frustrating. My son, after all, was quite accustomed to these sorts of needs at home with his brother Lucas. Omar described their interactions, and gave me examples of how he showed empathy, treating the boy at camp with respect for his individual needs and personality. Omar also mentioned thinking that the boy might be autistic, before the boy’s sister had even told him.

I asked how others treated this boy at camp.

I listened desperately to his answers.

Omar went on to tell me that many of the kids didn’t understand the boy. Some kids yelled at the boy with autism, telling him to stop doing the things they didn’t feel were appropriate. “Wait at the back of the line,” they’d yell, when he cut. Other kids let him go in front of the line. Some kids made fun of him.

But, a few, including my son, were kind to him.

They saw him as a peer, a person, a friend.

I saw a glimpse into Lucas’ future in this boy at camp. There is still a long way to go regarding acceptance, awareness, and inclusion of children and adults who are differently abled in our society. We have come a long way, but there is still a ways to go. And, it is the job of adults to educate themselves, be the example, live these things out, and teach the next generation acceptance and love.

You see, I worry often, that people who Lucas hopes will like him would be mean, insensitive, make fun of, and exclude him.

One beautiful revelation in all this, is that I realized I am raising a son with the awareness I hope others will have. Omar is willing to include and love others with and without obvious differences, even when I am not present to prompt him in that. I am proud that Omar was so insightful, and thoughtful. I am proud that he realized when the child’s “odd” behavior was not really rude or ‘disobedient.’ My son showed him grace and compassion. He didn’t view the child as unimportant or inferior.

As I heard all this, I was filled with hope. I was filled with the hope that there will be an “Omar” for my Lucas, whenever he does have the chance to venture out into a more inclusive atmosphere.

May there always be an “Omar” in his classroom, an “Omar” at his camp, and wherever he may go, to love him the way he is, accept him, and guide him.

The boy at my son’s camp with autism gifted me with hope. He gave me hope, that autism is not necessarily going to limit my son in the ways I had foreseen. And, his mom gave me hope, that this journey is not as restricting as I had feared.

Although I’ll always be concerned about both my boys’ futures, I got a beautiful reminder in this experience.

Out there, outside of the circle of protection I keep Lucas in, the community is sprinkled with people who are brothers and sisters, friends, teachers, and family of someone with autism.

Those are the people I hope will stick up for him, get him, and help others get him, when I am not there.

Those are the people who give me faith that a world with inclusion can exist.

To the Strong Ones. Be Unashamed of the Battle it Takes to get There.

So often, when you admit to someone that you are having a hard time with a situation, you hear things like: “it will be OK,” “others would love to have what you have,” “cheer up,” “be grateful,” “it could be worse.” It’s like people are so uncomfortable with hearing how not OK things are, that they wind up responding with attempts to make whatever you are going through immediately “better.” The problem with this, is things don’t always actually get better as a result of someone coming up with a quick, well-intentioned, cliche. These sayings can actually diminish what a person is feeling and going through. The pressures to meet the standard of appearing OK again, pushes people into pretending they are OK, when they aren’t yet.

When I am really not OK, what I’d like to hear is, “I will sit with you right here. In the mess. In the ugly. In the not OK. And, I won’t force or expect you to come out until you are ready. I won’t expect that being OK is easy or quick. I will meet you right where you are at, until you are ready to come out.”

Now, it is true, that on many days, I can see the bright side of situations and adversity.

But, it is also true, that on some days, I really struggle to find it.

Most days, I can see the marvel and the joy, that autism and ADHD have brought into our world, more than I can see the overwhelming challenges from it. On these days, the inspiration in my children is spectacular.

But, some days, I see only the ways I am unequipped to manage and sort out motherhood well.

Many days, I am thankful for how each one of us in my household has grown in the hard times.

But, some days, I feel jealousy over others who “seem to have it easier.” But, I know that is an ugly place to let my head go, and I try quickly to rearrange my focus.

Often, there are days, where I am well aware of the wonderful help that is available, through friends, family, and the special needs ministry at my church. Those days, feeling grateful comes with ease.

But, some days, I feel extreme frustration and exasperation at my kids, myself, and my husband.

Many days, I have the energy to fight and win at scheduling, planning, arranging and rearranging, and advocating for my boys like you wouldn’t believe.

But, some days, I feel like I am being crushed under the weight of the world on my shoulders and that I am in this alone.

Some days I have a knot all day in my stomach. Sometimes I don’t even know why. And sometimes I know every single reason why I am anxious. I can picture each and every outcome clearly that I am hoping to prevent. Neither cause feels better, some days.

On those days, I don’t want to hear “it will be OK.” Some days I just need to lean my head on a caring shoulder, and just not be OK. I know that at some point I will likely be “OK.” But, in those moments, I need you not to convince me for it to come too soon. Being human is not a constant high of happiness and satisfaction. Life is all about the beautiful mess in between the happy and the sad. There are highs and there are lows. I don’t have the energy to pretend that I am always OK. (Nor should I have to).

So, next time you hear someone say something like “I am having a really hard time with …,” consider just sitting next to them. Let them rest their head on your shoulder, and let them be not OK. These are the moments that define our character and who we will become on the other side of not being OK. These are the crucial times where we begin to grow, to see what we are made of, and what we can make it through. We learn to overcome adversity when we acknowledge it, and not deny it.

So, there are days where I will smile, and I will tell you all that has been overcome. But some days, I won’t. On those days, I’ll need to tell you what I have been struggling to overcome, while I am still in the midst of the pain and the processing and am, quite possibly, nowhere near reaching the peak of overcoming that mountain yet. On these days, respectfully, I ask, please don’t tell me it will all be OK. On these days, a compassionate glance, and a reminder you’ll be there for me through the thick and the thin will be the best thing you can do for me.

Yes, many days, nothing can stop me.

But, some days, I won’t lie and say that I feel OK about everything. Even though, it’s sort of what most people want to hear. I am not broken, when some days are harder than others. And neither are you. What I will attempt everyday, is to be unashamed to be me. Honest and vulnerably real. I will be unafraid to help others feel less alone, because people need to hear, that even the “strong ones,” are not always “OK.”


“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever,” Psalm 73:26.

My situation doesn’t always feel good. But, my God is always good, and He is with me all the days of my life.

I am so glad that He shows me more grace than I show myself.

Perfection.

Perfectionism.

A destroyer and a thief.

An accuser.

Imposes deceitful belief.

Condemns.

Has no end.

Things will never be good enough.

It will always be this rough.

To try,

To make things right.

The fight,

Leaves you feeling insufficient,

Like you’ve failed.

Get back up.

You are proficient.

You are down,

But not forever.

Perfectionism.

It is time to sever

The fear and skepticism.

Take courage,

To not be perfect today.

You are better that way.

Be good.

Be great.

Be Mighty and proud.

But perfect?

Disallowed.

6 Simple Realistic Self Care Ideas: From a Special Needs Mom.

So, we have all seen the lists of things that include suggestions like, get a massage, get a mani pedi, take a yoga class. Not that there is anything wrong with these, but if you are anything like me, I have gift certificates sitting in my wallet for things like this and never get around to claiming them! As a special needs parent, part time working, mom with anxiety, finding the time and the planning for these things just rarely works out. I spend most of my time managing insurance phone calls, therapy visits and scheduling, drop offs, pick ups, and trying to be a present and somewhat pleasant wife. So, I have found that if I lower my expectations a little bit, there can be some very simple things that do actually fit into my schedule here and there. Small things, done consistently, can have a big effect on feeling like I have been able to pay attention to things that make me feel good, in the midst of this normally chaotic period of life.

1. I paint my nails.

Forget about the salon. I don’t frankly have the time or money for that. But, I do love to get creative with my nails every now and then. I like to try a funky different color, unique hand crafted design nail art like stripes or half and half color,or even just a classic color like red. Pretty nails go a long way in feeling good. When my nails are painted nicely, I find that throughout the next few days, looking down at my hands, in the middle of the stormy situation I may be in, makes me feel a level of satisfaction in that moment.

Side note: on the contrary side of things. If you have done your nails weeks ago, and it is to the point now where it’s chipping off and looking horrible, self care might be the exact opposite. Get some nail polish remover and take off the old stuff! Just cleaning up the mess, so to speak, feels really good. Something about restoring the neatness of natural nails after sporting a chipped mess for days can also feel really accomplishing.

2. I take a shower with a nice smelling soap or shower gel.

I know, some self care lists say things like grab a book and pamper yourself with a bubble bath filled with rose petals. I do not have time for that! Instead? I take advantage of whatever time I do have to get a shower in during the week. Exotic fruity fragrances are super revitalizing, especially ones that includes citric scents. Floral scents can be soothing and romantic feeling. These don’t have to be expensive. Your local store’s generic brands will do just fine to invigorate your mood, and the cheaper your buy, the more scents you can experiment with until you find one you love. Trust me, after a minute or two breathing in a lovely scent while at the same time getting a shower in, is a double bonus for your mood!

And, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. Got enough time to shave? That’s an extra self care perk! Feels really good for that first day to have clean shaven smooth legs again. Whatever floats your boat. Whatever you have time to squeeze in and makes you feel good.

Side note: Some days just taking a shower at all is self care for me. Some days, just brushing my teeth is self care for the day.

3. I use my scented oils and diffuse them at bed time.

This one can be a little pricey, but there are memberships to get discounts, or you can find them individually on Amazon or at a healthcare supply website. I joined an essential oil company to get the 25% off my purchases for the year. Since I use essential oils with my kids and myself, it was worth it. But, I digress. This is about SELF care, not child care. I have enjoyed diffusing lavender, On Guard (which helps kill germs), and wild orange. (The last one came as a free bonus with my first order. SCORE)! I also use lavender blend called Serenity, and an essential oil muscle relaxer roller, to ease the tension in my neck and shoulders, before I hit the pillow. God knows how parenting can cause all sorts of tension, especially special needs parenting.

Bonus? If you forget to do it one night, or don’t have the energy, the pillow winds up slightly scented and will still give you the relaxing effect the next night!

4. I do something nice or creative with my hair, clothes, or makeup.

Nowhere fancy to go? No problem. Go try on that sexy dress you haven’t worn in ages. Put on the sexy shoes you haven’t worn since before kids. Watch a you tube tutorial on curling, styling, or straightening your hair in a new way, or a step by step ‘how-to’ of make up application tips. So what if you are the only one who winds up appreciating it. Be forewarned though. It sometimes takes several tries to really master the look you are youtubing. Trust me, don’t despair if you look more like a clown than a cover girl your first couple of tries! Bonus? It gives you practice so you can do it faster when you are actually gonna go somewhere nice. Your skills will improve, and if done well, it makes you feel good. Plus, it makes for a great selfie. If not? Something fun to try again a another night.

Side note: Sometimes self care is the exact opposite. On these days, it might look like just wearing the coziest sweatpants you own, after taking off yesterday’s makeup and the cute jeans that are just a little too tight now. Cuddle with yourself on the couch with that warm fuzzy couch blanket you haven’t washed in ages. Enjoy it, guilt free. These things are comforting, and self care, all the same.

5. Laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine they say. And it is so easy to find these days! Google funny memes. Laugh away. Listen to a comedy station on a subscription music channel like SeriusXM or Pandora. Search through Netflix/Hulu/Amazon stand up comedy shows, or just find ideas in their comedy genre lists. Some ideas? Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby.

I learned early in my journey with anxiety, that laughing does something to uplift the soul. Throughout my life, I have even kept written lists of things that I have found the funniest. It is hard to stay intensely sad, anxious, or mad, when you are in the middle of several good belly laughs. Sometimes, if your emotions are high, laughing turns to tears, of laughter, mixed with pain, mixed with more laughter. It is all ok. Laughter is still a feel good activity overall, which has been correlated with reducing stress and releasing endorphins.

6. Sing.

So simple. Find a radio station or music channel that plays your favorite kind of music, and belt it out, unafraid. Jump, dance, or scream, and sing, to songs that remind you of who you are and what makes you happy, or whatever helps you process emotions. This can happen while you drive, and/or pretty much anytime around your home. Try pulling up the lyrics, so you can really do it well. Feels really good to sing to a favorite song with all the right words.

Don’t know the lyrics? No problem! Sing the words all wrong. Still feels great!

The moral of the story.

Remember, the key is having realistic expectations here! I am a special needs mama after all, and I do not have the time to do many of the classic self care recommendations. However, I have found that the things on this list are easy enough to fit in. I do not expect them to happen every day, or to work out great all the time. But, fitting these things in is sure better than allowing months of stress to build up without paying attention to myself in a positive way. Self love and self appreciation are so important for everyone, and are especially needed for caregivers of others, including and especially, (special needs) mamas.

How do we Know We’re Making the Right Decisions for our Kids?

The simple answer is you really don’t. At least, you don’t ever know beforehand, that is. Last year, both of my sons had a hard year at school. I had a terrifically hard year as their parent. My oldest, Omar, got diagnosed with ADHD, shortly after my youngest, Lucas, was diagnosed with autism. Both were going to schools that really weren’t fully interested in meeting either of their needs. That left me feeling so stressed out, from the time I woke up, until the hours Id lay in bed. I’d ask myself. What is the right thing to do? How can I meet both of their needs? How do I know my choices are right? All I knew was what I was doing didn’t feel completely right. But, I didn’t know what would be better. We can be so scared to try something new that we stay in the ‘comfortable uncomfortable’ for way too long.

For me, it all started with not wanting to believe Lucas really had the level of special needs that he did. I remember the exact moment where the concept was even introduced to me that he might need more intense therapy than we had him in. At the time, we had him in 30 minute sessions twice a week of speech therapy, and one hour, once a week, with a special education teacher. She met with him at his day care to help him participate with the teacher’s group activities and play with friends. After his first speech therapy session, his provider walked with me and my son outside towards my car at the end of the session. I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of the school. Her words were coming in and out. All I could think about was getting to day care in time to get to work in time. I didn’t want a change. Uncomfortably comfortable is certainly better than the drastic unknown, right?

But, she went on. She told me, if I wanted what was best for him, it warranted the drastic change. Stop working. Working had honestly felt like my identity at this point. I liked what I did. I liked making money. I liked having things the way they were. She stood there suggesting that I drastically change everything. And, furthermore, was as bold as to say that “if I wanted what was best for Lucas,” I would make the changes necessary. Tears filled my eyes as I stood there looking at her. I didn’t want to hear the words. I didn’t want her to be right. She couldn’t be right. She had only spent thirty minutes with my son. How could she make such strong suggestions. She couldn’t have come to the right conclusion, surely. I wasn’t ready for it. After months of wrestling with the idea that I could really be doing Lucas a disservice to not improve the setting in which he was learning, my husband and I agreed to make the switch.

My steady work became random, per Diem, assignments. We entered the world of the unknown. In every single way imaginable. How will I parent this child well? What if I make mistakes? What if they are huge mistakes? What if they are mistakes that cost him a better prognosis than if I hadn’t made those mistakes? Decisions. Which therapies? How much? Ones that insurance doesn’t pay for? I hated the world of the unknown. I like having a clear plan. I want to know what is the best option and choose it. Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t offer that option. There is no one and only way to do it. Each child is unique, and so are my husband and I. We knew we had to figure out the best that we could come up with, and found solace in the fact that we could always re-work the schedule as needed throughout the year. And that’s what we did. We started out with full time preschool with a special needs teacher. At first it was decent. Lucas had 6 kids to one teacher in a class. Slowly, other kids entered the program until it was way too big for the teacher to manage well. Administration was not supportive of what the kids needed as individuals. Knowing it didn’t feel like the right decision made me sick. We decided to switch gears, and put him in full time ABA therapy, and reduce preschool hours.

For my son with ADHD, there was a constant battle of helping him feel good about himself in the middle of being reprimanded so frequently, due to his poor impulse control. Do we try medications? Do we begin behavioral therapy? Do we make a reward system? Will that help? We set up a meeting with his teachers and school psychologist. The result? “Omar is so far intellectually beyond the average kid his age or grade. Therefore, putting strategies in effect for him to perform at his best would be giving him an unfair advantage over the other students.” That’s when I realized, his school wasn’t going to fight for him, so I had to.

Change.

That is one thing I have had the hardest time with. Yet, this journey has forced me to learn how to cope with it. Things are going to change. No matter how much I do or don’t want them to.

This year, we tried something drastically different. I’ve learned by now, not to be afraid to try drastic. At least then, I can say I’ve tried everything available. My oldest son will be at the same school as my youngest, and for completely different reasons. My oldest will take on the challenge of being in a full-time gifted program to help keep him better engaged. He’s had to deal with a lot of change in his life; a big move from NY to FL, his brother’s brain surgery and autism diagnosis, a new school, and a major change in both parents’ work schedules. He is so inspirationally adaptable to change. As for Lucas, we decided to reduce his ABA hours significantly. This was tough for me. I used to see ABA as his best chance of learning the most, while his brain is still so teachable. But, darn that word again. Change. He will now be enrolled full time in the exceptional student Pre-K program, which will be a blended class of typical and special needs pre-K students. I have a good feeling about this year. I have a good feeling, because we have all grown so much in our ability to more boldly make decisions, assess what’s working and what’s not, and be able to seek the next step. We have learned not stay stuck in something that isn’t working.

So. Back to the question. How do you know that you made the right decision? Well you won’t know before time has passed. You may feel like you have, but that may change. And therein lies the answer. The only way to really be able to do the ‘right thing’ for your kids is to be open to change. Be open to the fact that a choice that worked then, might not work now. and vice versa. Be open when something isn’t going right. Be open that sometimes the scariest choice is the best one. Sometimes overcoming the fear of the unknown frees us to experience the wonderful we had been searching for all along.

This year, I am willing to take on change. I won’t let fear hold me back. If our best choices don’t work out, I will know that on the other side of that can be better ones. Only, if I am willing to accept change. The end of something is usually just the beginning of something else. And, as long as our family sticks together and is willing to make the necessary changes, then we can embrace this journey, with continued hope and anticipation of good things to come.

Finding Cooper’s Voice Submission. What I’d Say to Myself When my son was First Diagnosed.

Dear Sweet Mama,

If I could go back in time and hug you tightly, and promise you it was all going to be OK, I would. There are many things I’d say if I were face to face with you. But I’ll start with this.

You Will Get Passed the Diagnosis.

When the diagnosis is new, your vast range of emotions will be hard to sort through. You won’t know if you are happy that someone confirmed you weren’t wrong about the diagnosis, or if you are scared to death about what this will all mean. It’s OK. It’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to cry, scream, question why, feel bitter, and isolate yourself for a time. But don’t stay there mama. Please inch your way back out. There will be times where it will feel impossible. Hold on anyway. You and your little one will make it through. You are an All Star team together. You will inspire and feed off of each other’s accomplishments and strength along the way.

Autism Will Effect Your Marriage and Your Other Son.

You and your spouse are going to handle this entirely differently. Don’t give up on each other. You will want to get an immediate grip on things, spending endless hours researching autism: diets, therapies, doctors, insurance benefits. You will be hyper-vigilant, leaving no stone unturned. It will feel like you can change everything if you start services “early enough.” Is it early enough? Yet, your husband will seem unaffected by the diagnosis, in denial, maybe in shock. A barrier will grow between you, from the inability to grasp and articulate the difference in your emotions. Love each other through this.

Things will never be the same after the diagnosis. Should working parents stay home from now on? How will we coordinate all the pick ups and drop offs with all the new services? How can we maintain some semblance of stability for our older son, who will be dealing with this in his own way? The diagnosis will feel all-consuming, overwhelming. Remember, your husband and kids matter more than the diagnosis. Take time to sit down and be present in the moment with them.

Find Your Support Team.

You will need to find “your people.” The ones who “get it.” You might feel like you are drowning, but your team will help rescue you. They will give the most sincere and comforting “I understand” compassion you’ve experienced yet. Families with older kids have made it through this phase, and have invaluable information regarding available programs, special needs schools and therapies, and how to best advocate for your child. These things will constantly evolve, based on your child’s age and development. Your team will serve another purpose. They will remind you often of, perhaps, the most important thing. Your child is beautiful, and you are an amazing mama.

Perfectionism and Comparison.

You will need to throw away your perfectionism. Completely away. Perfectionism will stop you from fully accepting your child, and from forgiving yourself and your spouse a million times over. You can let it go. I promise. Take it one day at a time. Keep growing. You cannot control everything. That is OK. Who wants that sort of responsibility anyway?

It will serve you best to toss comparison out as well. Sibling to sibling. Your child to other people’s children. Your motherhood experience to others. When you see the posts about milestones other people’s kids reach, you may feel a renewed sense of sadness for what you and your child don’t have. Feel it. Then move forward. You have something just as special. You and your child’s list of accomplishments were hard worked for and well earned. Celebrate them!

Don’t lose sight of your son’s amazing strengths and unique abilities. Don’t get so obsessed with therapy and doctor visits that you forget your child is incredible. More than anything else, he just needs his mama’s unconditional love and praise. These things are simple to give. But not if you are too burned out.

Coordinating Your new Schedule.

I want to give you permission not to keep every single commitment. It is OK to cancel or reschedule a therapy visit, a doctor appointment, or even a planned event with family or a friend. Some days, rest, or keeping you and your child’s sanity, will be most important. It’s OK. Don’t feel guilty. Your best really is good enough.

Hold on to Hope.

Some of those milestones you fear will never come? Some of them will come! I promise. Don’t give up. Potty training? Effective communication/words? Making a friend? Hope for these things! Some of those small things? Dressing himself? Tolerating brushing his teeth? Staying at the table for most or all of a meal? They are possible. Hold on to hope. True, some of them might not come. But, some of the ones you thought could never come, they will. It will be as exciting as you hoped when it happens.

Love Yourself. (Breathe).

Patience has limitations. It will be tested repeatedly during this journey. You will often feel like you are alone and depleted. Breathe. Often. Stop. Close your eyes, and breathe. You will find the energy anyway. You will do everything you know how, and never give up. To be honest, you will feel like it sometimes. Forgive yourself. I am cheering you on from the stands, and giving you a standing ovation.

You Will Persevere on the Journey.

Finally, I want to remind you, that you and each member of your family are Rock Stars. You will climb mountains that you couldn’t even see the peaks of when this journey began. You will meet some of the most amazing people along the way, climbing their own mountains, teaching, loving, and inspiring you, and boosting you up along the way. You will do the same for other families. And, those mountains? You will look back from the top and finally grasp, this journey isn’t really impossible for you.