Saturday, May 25, 2013

The married Single parent- Jamie

I posted this on my personal blog but since this is one geared for special needs I figured why not post this here also!

Sounds like an oxymoron right? I am sure it is but at the same time most people I know understand what I am talking about. You are married, you have a spouse that you share a life with, and you have a family. However there comes a time you feel like when it comes to the kids you are doing t all on your own. This is not to take a dig at the true single parents or make it seem like they don't have it worse than us but that level of frustration has got to be a big higher because we have these expectations in our mind that we are a team we work together and we do it as one. 
I often think those who raise children who have special needs already sort of have a nail in the coffin so to speak when it comes to that whole working as a team, making it work moto. In the majority of the families I know of it is the mother that does the majority of the work when it comes to the raising and well being of the children. When I say that I mean they take them to their doctor apts, dentist, school functions, extracurriculars, and set up the play dates. Now this is not to discount the father's who do this but there is just generally one parent who is in charge, so to speak, when it comes to these sort of things. For the most part we embrace these responsibilities. We were given this responsibility because we were right for the job. We know the needs that need to be met, the things that need to be taken care of so therefor they become ours to handle. Again sometimes this isn't always the case but I am just going off what is typical in a normal typical home. 
So back to where I feel special needs families are at a sort of disadvantage so to speak. We as the primary caretaker of the kids do all that we do that is required of having a typical child but then you add whatever that special need is to the mix . It might be extra appointments, therapy, traveling to specialists, home healthcare you name it. Suddenly there are days you feel like you don't have a partner that its you and only you taking on the tasks of that child and there is no wingman, go to person, partner, teammate to bail you out. Sometimes this happens just because the other parent feels inferior and has no idea what it is they really need to do and feel helpless. It generally isn't that they don't want to help or they don't feel like being involved they just have no clue where to jump in and what to do.
While that parent who feels like they are doing it all wants to scream and shake their partner into submission, they avoid doing so for many reasons. I don't think I need to elaborate but we come to our sense and realize that we should take that energy and direct it to a more useful purpose which would be helping that spouse help us more. Sometimes this works, however I won't lie sometimes this results in even bigger problems. The key is in how you address it and how you go about solving this problem. Delivery is key!
I encourage families who have special needs children to invest in that sitter so that you can attend workshops, trainings, symposiums, and of course date night. That trustworthy sitter you have for your child will be worth their weight in gold if that means you two can get away and realize what it is that you need to work on. It is hard to be that "single" parent to your child and its hard on that parent to feel like they have to carry that entire load when they don't need to. Life is hard enough no need to make it even harder. 
I did the single parent thing. It wasn't fun by any means but at the same time I knew that I had to handle it all. I couldn't turn around to my partner and "I need back up, please take over, help me out!" I accepted this as part of my choice to be a single parent and did it with ease I believe. Not that I would want to do it again but I know if God forbid I ended up in that situation again I would be ok. However I am married, I have my go to person, my wingman so I plan on utilizing him the best I can when I can. This is a learning experience for the both of us. However with the right tactics we will be better than the "married single parent" status. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

So who is in charge here?!

This week has been finals week for me and nothing can stress a parent out more than trying to juggle the immediate needs of their family, work and then of course school. I happened to have 3 back to back exams and felt like I was all over the place these last few days. I can tell that H has felt the effects of this but so has my oldest. I am here but not in the present, the now. I am around enough to whip up a quick dinner and then vanish behind my computer until very late in the night. I put a lot of pressure on myself and that could be my biggest downfall. I suddenly feel I have a lot of expectations to live up to such as my Bomb Wing award I received this quarter and being on the Dean's List, throw in some advocacy work and being everything to everyone it starts to take it's toll. 

Tonight I had my last exam for the semester. Just two more to go! I had my husband and H in tow as I walked into the school. Chris needed to speak to his advisor real quick while I was taking my exam. I was holding H and it was clear he didn't want to be held. He saw the big openness of the building and was ready to take off. I had to turn in a few last minute assignments so I held H in my arms to ensure his safety. He was doing his loud shrieks, flapping, squirming and laughing his really crazy loud laugh. I held on just a bit tighter hoping this pressure would relax him. Of course it didn't I did this until his dad reappeared from the bathroom and I passed him off so I could get ready for the exam. 

However in that time I was holding H a older lady walked up to me and said "It's clear who is in charge here and it isn't you." I know my facial expression wasn't pleasant as I was taken aback by it and really caught off guard. She quietly said "cute kid though" as she walked off. I really wanted to say "Look lady if you think you can do a better job with my child and show him who is in charge by all means go for it!" However my inability to speak and my lack of wanting conflict left me biting my tongue. Where does she get off saying such things?

After cooling down and processing this I realized to an outsider of our world it would appear as if we don't have control or charge over our situations. It looks like we are helpless parents with spoiled brats who don't care to listen. What she is failing to see, along with all the others who have thought or said those same things is, this big open space we are in is an invitation to run and explore, these lights in the ceiling are not just lights it is like a disco strobe blinking incessantly to them, the smallest hum of those lights or the noise of people or other noises are like a bug buzzing right up in their ears pestering and frustrating them because they can't tune it out, the unfamiliar situation and lack of routine is also a factor in how their temperament will be. However I am not going to sit there and lecture her on the finer points when I have a child to tend to that is needing to be calmed and removed from a situation that could turn very ugly very quick. 

I started thinking though maybe I should start taking the time to explain what ASD, SPD and APD are to people and how that while they think my child is a complete defiant brat he actually is a very sweet, highly intelligent child who battles the everyday life of not being able to control a lot of what he does. He is also only 2.5 years old. We have all sorts of people working with us to help him have more control and abilities of being able to help himself but until then we do the best we can. 

So who is in charge here? We are, his parents who spend every waking hour, are in charge. Yes there are times we might not look qualified to even have a child let a lone one with special needs but honestly I think we do a fine job. This made me realize just how important all these therapies are to our children the OT, PT, SP and of course ABA. All that they learn through these types and other therapies are going to help coach them to know that we are in charge and we are aware of their needs and it's ok we got this for them. This also teaches them that they can be in charge of themselves to a point also. Every day is a learning experience for us and for them. Now we just need to take that knowledge and share with others that we have got this and we are infact in charge!-- Jamie Thomas