Sitting in the doctor’s office, I listened intently to the strategy for (literally) getting back on my feet. After 6 weeks of non-weight-bearing, the doctor finally extended permission to walk on both feet. For approximately 1 hour a day.
“Plan your hour wisely,” she said, “And if you’re experiencing any pain, that means you need to stop, discontinue your activities and rest.”
She said, “Yeah, I know, it’s hard to stop when you’re a mom.”
I smiled and nodded, feigning a camaraderie of motherhood. Internally, visions of meltdowns screamed into my brain.
I agreed with the doctor. I promote self-care, self-nurturing more times in a day than I have fingers and toes to count. I problem solve with parents to figure out how to sneak in much needed rest and respite. I really do try to practice what I preach, too.
But when you have a differently wired child, you can’t just base your rest and respite on when you need it. It has to be strategically planned. Because parenting a fringy child is unyielding.
And it is in those moments when doctors or neighbors or friends try to relate to the “hardness” of parenting, that the true difference of parenting a differently wired child feels so much more isolating. Parenting is hard. Parenting the “easy” child is difficult. Parenting the fringy child is unyielding.
And so, I could problem solve strategies to work in those self-nourishing moments with you, I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again, but for today’s post, I just want you to know that you are not alone.
That this parenting of these kids is more than hard. Parenting fringy kids is unyielding.
We don’t experience the typical hard part of stopping as a mom; we experience the impossibility of stopping when we need to. We experience the unyielding need to gird up the small droplets of energy and stamina that we have left so we can regulate our out of control child.
We don’t experience the hardness of sibling rivalry; we experience the unyielding hyperawareness to ensure the safety of our children. At any moment, a small sibling dispute can catapult into literal life or death situations.
We don’t experience the hardness of parenting through different developmental stages; we experience the unyielding physical demands of providing toddler level cares to a 100 pound 13 year old. We experience incessant discernment of what developmental expectations are appropriate for our “no-book-will-ever-be-able-to-give-me-the-right-age-based-checklists” child.
We don’t experience the hardness of finding alone time as a parent; we experience the unyielding neediness of higher needs kiddos. We don’t experience the annoying small-handed knocks and shouts of “mom” when we’re locked in the bathroom; we experience the unyielding, traumatic sound of flailing limbs, hard objects crashing against the door, screams, incoherent shouts and all-too-coherent words of hatred.
And we don’t experience the hardness of finding time to rest when your foot hurts as a parent; we experience the unyielding demands of meltdowns regardless of what our foot feels like. We experience the unyielding need to respond in a moment’s notice, because we frequently have to. We have to have the urgency and preparation to be our very own, living, moving, breathing, bugout bag: ready to escape, quarantine, protect, move, in the blink of an eye. Whether your foot hurts or not.
So, yes. The doctor was right. It’s hard to be a parent. But, to be a parent of a higher needs child, is unyielding.