The following is a guest post from Judy Kathleen, a survivor of life, loves and family situations. She has two batches of kids - one set in their 20s and now a new young set. She provides wisdom and funny anecdotes on the blog at My Kids and More.
Parenting is a mixed bag of blessings. On one hand, I find being a mother the most rewarding job that I have ever held. While on the other hand, the most perplexing. Having reared two children already, I am now raising two special needs kids. I choose to call this “process” re-parenting. I get a do-over, if you will. Thankfully, I have learned a few tricks along the previously unpaved and bumpy road of mothering. My six year old son, Phillip has ADHD. My granddaughter, Mariah, also lives full time with us. Mariah suffers from Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I thought parenting children without disabilities was difficult enough. However, it’s an entirely new ballgame when your parenting special needs kids. I am thankful each and every day I have had previous mothering experience. I am also grateful that due to my more mature age, I have the gift of being more patient.
Gratitude and Patience are two key ingredients needed to be a successful parent of a child with any disability. Also, reading up on our children’s particular issues, learning what questions to ask the doctor and organization are priorities.
Gratitude helps me get through the days that seem to have no end, when my bones ache and all I can think is how nice a nap would be. Only, I already know a nap would not suffice. I’d find myself waking up behind the eight ball - not able to get out in front of the issues that arose during my slumber. Fortunately for me, I do have a husband to help with the children. On a rare occasion, I’ll enlist his aide and go to bed super early knowing full well, when I do, the price I’ll pay the next morning. Undone dishes, clothes littering the floor, wet towels laying everywhere, and that list can go on and on. Patience is a primary tool here. Grateful I had the time to sleep. Grateful I have a husband to help. And, the patience not to be upset over the mess I wake up to.
By far, taking the time to learn about my children’s disabilities has been the best resource. Arming myself with much needed information make our days healthier, brighter, and happier. I wasted an entire year dealing with family doctors. Family doctors that told me, “Oh, Phillip is just all boy. He will grow out of this. It’s just a stage.” As if I wasn’t already in denial. No mother wants to admit her child isn’t like every other child on the planet. My son is super hyperactive and very impulsive. These traits have caused numerous problems. I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I learned from reading online, and books, a specialist was the best way to go. I had an “Aha” moment when I read that.
Took me two months to get an appointment booked, but we were on our way to getting a diagnosis. The new doctor prescribed meds. Phil was immediately like a different child. Home life settled down. I quit getting constant complaints about disruptions at school. Best of all, I could have a conversation with my boy. Phil could never stay focused long enough to actually talk with him (not at him) before he began the medicine. Eventually, I would need further reading to learn about different medicines available - medicines that would better suit his needs at any given time.
I also unexpectedly acquired custody of my granddaughter and I was pretty much a self taught expert in children with disabilities. A veteran road scholar if you will. Didn’t take long to recognize Mariah would need some extra help, too. I immediately swung into action with her. I arranged for a child development expert to assess Mariah. I made an appointment for therapy sessions. I also spent weeks researching a pre-school that would be an awesome fit for her. I didn’t want either of us to go through what Phil and I had been through with schools that did not fit well.
Organization has been my best friend. Keeping up with doctors, phone numbers, and medicines are just a few of items that need to be handy at all times. With my children’s particular disabilities, they both need regular routines. Neither child fairs well with new environments, situations or surprises. If, for whatever reason, we are to break our normally scheduled routine, being forewarned is being forearmed. I’ll sit the kids down the night before and explain what we are going to be doing different the next day. In certain situations, I’ll set time aside to make a preliminary visit.
Gratitude, patience, being knowledgeable about my children’s disabilities, and being organized have made life much more joyful for all of us.
What strategies have you used to make your life a little easier?