As I sat crying in my home office last night after a particularly trying afternoon and evening with Michael, it may sound strange to say that I was also feeling thankful at the same time. Thankful for a stressful and trying day? Has she lost her mind, you may be thinking? I’m happy to tell you that I did not lose my mind. I was very aware of what I was thinking and feeling. I was letting off some steam and emotion, but at the same time was realizing that even in the low moment, I no longer felt Michael’s stress and anxiety issues were all my fault. I also no longer beat myself up over and over that I am a bad mother. I also no longer got angry when I realized I could not write this blog post up last night. I was simply too tired and drained. So I went to bed early with no guilt-Mommy or parent coach or writer guilt. Wow. That was huge for me.
This didn’t just happen overnight. It has been a process I have been building towards for the last four years. It’s really in the last year or two only as well that my Mommy and work guilt go away when Michael is overwhelmed. I feel bad and frustrated for him, and bad and frustrated for me. That is it. What a relief that I can process that emotion more clearly. It makes it easier to move, learn from what we may need to still introduce or remind Michael of, and what we can all learn from it. That’s right. As annoying and tiring as it is to ask myself that amazing question Oprah Winfrey has asked herself in the past when handling tough situations and emotions, “What can I/we learn from this?” What I have been learning from Michael sugar highs and lows with diabetes and his anxiety management which is not always the greatest, is that we really need to make sure he has the proper tools to handle his fears. And yes, there have been new fears developing. I suspect they are related to the lack of control he feels in his life, now more so than ever. We have been reminding him of what tools he already has, and trying to help him fin new ones that work for him. He has come up with a few on his own. We are also seriously revisiting adding some anti-anxiety medication on to his arsenal of strategies.
As hard as it is to live with him when he is in super anxiety and anger mode, I worry so much more now about his stress and what it could cause. As his sugar levels go up, there is more risk factors with diabetes too. Staying calm myself in these moments is not always easy, particularly when I am tired myself. I have had some good moments this week and some not so good moments, but with a new educator helping us in the home as well as trying to give Michael control where I can, things are starting to get better. With Thanksgiving around the corner for this Canadian gal, I am reminded even with all the turmoil our Exceptional Kids bring into our lives what can we learn from this? What can they? Here are some things I think every Exceptional Parent can be thankful for this Thanksgiving (and every other):
- No matter what health issues they have, your child is alive and with you. All moments are not negative ones. Seize the moments when they are laughing, happy and in their element. Don’t forget, that is who your child really is. That is how you really are as their parent too.
- Accept them no matter what and show them what they have to be grateful for in their life. Show them you love them always and are thankful they are in your life.
- Our Exceptional Kids show us what really matters and what needs to be fixed. Work on fixing it in them and in yourself.
- Have fun family time not devoted to therapy. Cook, go on a walk, to a park. Be thankful for the regular family moments you can always have.
- Our kids remind us how to practice better self-care, celebrate difference more, and accept the things we can’t change.
- Exceptional families learn not to sweat the small stuff and celebrate the little victories. These are big victories for every child.
- Exceptional parents know that their Exceptional Children teach them so much about seeing all the growth, strength and true beauty in themselves as well as in their child.
Exceptional Parents, what are you thankful for with your Exceptional Child? Remember, it’s what we choose to see that will affect how we see the world. Our child will mimic our example of that world. Even on very hard days and weeks, choose to see hope, love and positive endurance in your child and in yourself. You and your family will grow and be able to spread that joy to other families struggling to find gratitude. Until next time.