Hello friend of an exhausted, overwhelmed, drained mama of a differently wired child.
I get it. You can’t understand. And most likely your friend doesn’t really want you to understand.
They don’t want you to know the day in and day out challenges of parenting a child who functions a little off kilter from the rest of the world.
They don’t want you to feel the futility of endless advocacy, hoping, praying, fiinger-crossing that this time their child will receive the services they need.
They don’t want you to know the soul-crushing pain when your child is called names, physically bullied, singled out for being different than the norm.
They don’t want you to have those moments, collapsed on the floor knowing that there’s not an ounce available to keep going, but having no other option. That moment when you pray that some sort of miracle will happen to just take this heart-draining journey away.
They don’t want you to feel the agonizing helplessness of watching your child in complete sensory meltdown, out of control, self-injuring, crying, in pain and knowing there’s nothing you can do but sit quietly by until it passes. Or the guilt-inducing anger when the meltdown turns aggressive and the physically painful implications of when that aggression becomes directed at you.
Your friend doesn’t really want you to know.
But, they also don’t want you to pretend you know.
They don’t want you to minimize their experience by saying things like, “oh yeah . . . there was a time my son said he hates me too because I wouldn’t let him sleepover at a friends house. It means you’re parenting well when they hate you!”
They don’t want to hear how it’s just a phase and their child will grow out of it. Because our biggest hopeful denial is that they will grow out of it and our deepest darkest fear is that they’ll never grow enough to live independently.
They don’t want to hear about the newest solutions or diets or gut health or punishments or medication or oil or exercises or hyperbolic chamber treatments.
They don’t want you to run away.
They don’t want you to not talk about their kid or your kids or the weather.
They don’t want you to fix it or cheer them up or try to make it all better.
What they want . . . is to be seen. To be noticed. To have someone simply sit with them or hug them and tell them that it sucks, it must be hard, but I’ll be here.
Yes, it’s hard. It’s one of the hardest things we’re asked to do as humans, be with someone we love when they are hurting and we’re not be able to fix it. Simply sit in the pain with our loved one. Simply let the tears or rage or anxiety happen. But, if you really want to know what your friend needs . . . it’s that. To be there. To tolerate the pain and just let it happen. To say, “I see you. I can’t completely understand, but it certainly sounds unimaginably hard.” To cry with them. To sit with them. To hold them. To see them. To help them feel less alone.
So no. You can’t get it. But, you can be you. And you can show up. And that’s all you really need to get.
A friend of a friend