As I was taking a shower yesterday, I thought of how far I’ve come in my parenting journey and in my life, and of how one thing helped me take the next step I needed to take: advocating. I started thinking that even with all the fears, mistakes and challenges, I have learned so much about how to run my life and business, actually pretty much everything, from advocating for Michael in school and life. As cliche as it may sound, we learn through our trials more than through our victories. I tell this to Michael all the time, and he now repeats it back to me as well as reminding me to “smile” and “use my strategies.” Yes, sometimes it is him talking back. At those times I take a deep calm breath, and tell Michael he is being rude and needs to apologize which he eventually does. But there are other times I can see, feel, nd hear what he is telling me: Take it easy Mom. You know what to do. Advocate for yourself. Write, talk, and live your life the way you know you need and want to. Tell others that it is in their power to change their own circumstances.
Below are 6 Ways I have learned to advocate for me while advocating for Michael (and make my life better):
- Trust your gut: Yes, Moms and Dads, we are told to trust our gut when advocating for our children’s education and opportunities. Do you trust it when making choices for ourselves, personal or business? If not think of fighting for you and what you need like you fight for your child. It is the only way you will truly be happy in life.
- Confidence in public speaking: I was afraid to address a wall before Michael, unless it was at one of my writer’s groups. Even then, I felt like I was slipping into my characters and it was not ME reading so I relaxed. I have learned, and continue to, how to speak at conferences, workshops, events and am excited to do so. I am out of my shell whether I like it or not. And you know what, I kind of like it. 🙂
- Asking for time, money, help: This was another hard one for me before. Now I know when to ask for assistance, outsource help, or ask for time for me, for my writing, for other pursuits. I deserve to feel and be whole. We all do.
- What to let go of and what to pursue: At times I still have difficulty with this one, but for the most part, I have learned what is worth fighting for when it comes to services and help for Michael, how to play with him on his terms and mine, and now in my business and personal life, which people I want to stay in my life and which I no longer want in my life as they are not supportive to me as a person.
- How to enjoy the simple things: Being a Mom has helped me remember how to be playful, and how the best learning and growth take place when we do that. With Michael it has been doing the normal simple family activities. How this has translated for me in my life has meant no more guilt at taking time for walks in nature. You can learn a lot from mother ducks. They lead, their ducklings follow, but it is their good example of what to do that helps everyone. I also have learned how exercise, lunches or dinners with friends, writing for pure pleasure and singing and dancing help clear my mind.
- How to be happy with “me” and not be someone else: In learning how to help Michael be the best little person he could be, I have learned how I used to one of those women who thought that others had it all and I was lacking. Not anymore. I like me, and though I admire others for what they have accomplished, it is just that, admiration, not jealousy or envy anymore. One day I will have the things I like in their life, but on my terms and with my twist on it. I am in charge of my own destiny and am starting to go after things I want and need to live a happy and whole life.
Exceptional Parents, how has advocating for your child changed your life? If you are just starting on your advocating journey and haven’t seen this change, don’t worry. It will come. When your child is born you are as much transformed as they are, as you both raise each other. You’ll see that though special needs parenting is a hard journey, bitter and stressful one day, a spiritually moving experience the next, it will equip you with skills, and help you become stronger than you ever dreamed possible. You’ll need to be to help everyone in your family grow and succeed in life. And a funny thing will happen along the way. You will find joy, purpose and a true calling and vocation that will fill places in your life that you did not know were empty. Good luck on your journey. I am here to guide you if you need it. See my website http://www.exceptionalparenting.net for further details. Until next time.