One Step Forward, Two Steps Back- How To Heal As An Exceptional Family


The other day after a particularly challenging evening, I took myself to one of my favorite places to go when I want peace, quiet and space- my home office. At that particular moment I was so tired of the anxiety, screaming, and fighting that had ended our day, that I needed physical distance away from Michael and even Dad. I needed to be alone and just breathe. So that is what I did. I closed my eyes and breathed in and out and practiced mindfulness- that is, being present in the moment only without looking for any solutions as to why a day that had gone really well ended so terribly. It was the old “one step forward, two steps back” analogy that has been playing out so much in our family, and so much in my friends’ families, especially at this time of year.

I have to keep reminding myself, I am doing the best I can. I am trying new things, reaching out for support, and will soon be reading two books which I know will give me new insight. Sometimes, it does not feel like enough. Sometimes it feels like it is too much information overload. There are days I am so tired I just want to throw in the towel, and find someone to take my place in this exceptional parenting thing. Other days, I really see that I am seeing what I need to change in me be stronger, what Michael needs to change, and how we are both helping each other. We heal, we break. It is constant. And if we are lucky, we grow. We always grow if we allow ourselves to feel the pain fully and suffer. Am reading a great book now that is talking about this.

Then there are the moments when Dad and I sit down together after a hectic day where we managed behaviors, Michael’s and our own, and watch a tv show together. Laugh and talk about something other than autism and diabetes. And even talk about Michael and what he said or did that did not revolve around either autism or diabetes. I need to remind myself that whether it is  orward or backward day, Michael too is doing the best he can. He will tell me,

“Mommy, I am trying. Don’t give up on me.”

He said it the other day again. Then more telling. I had been talking to him about how my belief in God is what gives me the strength to get through tough times like we are haiving now as a family. Michael responded;

“Is God helping you right now Mommy?”

“Yes, He is. God is sitting next to you right now. It’s not me Michael. Mommy is tired. God is speaking to you through me to help you get better. To help all of us get better and understand each other.”

The next day was a good one with Michael. Even with behaviors, he used strategies as did Dad and I to move forward in understanding ourselves and each other better. The result was that we all noticed what needed to change. We all needed to work on staying calm, organizing our days in a family schedule, and remembering that as hard as special needs parenting is, nothing is worse than giving up. We will never give up. There is always a new angle, a new thing to try, and that though the journey will be bumpy, our family will make it. Yours will too. I find inspiration in showing families how we are surviving and take comfort in learning how they are surviving then practicing that in our family.

Exceptional Parents, do you find that your parenting often feels like one step forward, two steps back? Do you feel hopeless, angry and frustrated at yourself, your partner or your child? We all have these feelings from time to time. The thing is to take some time alone to reflect on your own thoughts, and when you are calm, to remember to try something new in your way of approaching the problem. You will be surprised at how things will look different when you see things from a different angle. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website,

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