I am reading a very good book now called “When Things Fall Apart-Heart Advice For Difficult Times” by Pema Chodron. I have always admired much of Buddhism’s teachings, particularly when they talk about growing from suffering and seeing the beauty in it. I know, I know. This sounds like I am some kind of martyr who is advocating a woman or man sacrificing themselves on the altar of exceptional parenting. I assure you I am NOT doing that. I lived that many years ago, when I was failing to see what being Michael’s Mom was teaching me. Back then I thought I had to be the “perfect” Exceptional Mom who had all the answers. I thought there was no room for failure and by thinking I had to be superwoman I burned myself out, literally and figuratively. Now today, I know better. I still have my moments, of course. Lately with Michael’s myriad of behavior and anxiety challenges (as well as some diabetes’ ones), I have felt particularly sorry for myself and him and upset in general. I have not been viewing the “gift” in what his challenges are teaching him as well as Dad and I. What gift you may say? I know. I have been saying it to myself too even though I have been hating the fact I am saying it. The gift is that we can all transcend these challenges and become stronger. The gift is that we are still alive and surviving through a very rough time. The gift, for me, is to make me face my anger finally after forty years.
As a woman, I like many others was thought to push my anger down deep inside. It may hurt people’s feelings. It may cause ripples. It may cost me friendships, opportunities if I blew. This is all true. But somewhere along the line I forget to speak up for myself, to advocate for what I knew to be true and right. Somewhere along the line I forgot to let out pent up feelings of frustration, stress, anxiety and aggression in a productive way. Well, I can say that over the years having a different brained, emotionally challenging child has definitively helped me get past many of my issue with anger. Now, after recovering from a burnout many years ago, I am freely expressing my anger. Sometimes it is productive. Sometimes not so much. Either way I am in touch with my anger and frustration. This was something I was not doing twenty years ago. Consequently, I am also more in touch with my joy and happiness. Michael is the major reason for this. He helps and forces me to live in the moment. In order to help him, I have to take a step back and check in with me to see if I could handle anything unpredictable. If I can’t, I have learned to ask for a break. Sometimes it is later than I needed to ask for one, but as the saying goes, “better late than never.”
Lately, our family has been kind of stuck in an ‘in between stage’ of handling emotional upheavals and physical highs and lows of diabetes. Against how I normally would proceed, I have been feeling a little sorry for myself and Michael’s situation and not looking to see the gift in it for us. After some time alone this morning and this evening, I have come to the conclusion that I am doing neither of us any favors unless I embrace the hardship he and I and Dad are going through and see it as teaching us all how to be more resilient and stronger as individuals and as a family. That is not to say it is easy. It is hard. But longing for days in the past when things were easier, is not an option for any exceptional parent. You need to meet your child where they are right here and now. If you can’t and need a break, get one. You will come back recharged and ready to re-engage with your Exceptional Child in a whole new way. At the very least, you will have your sense of humor back to help them learn to discover theirs!
Exceptional Parents, what have you learned from the pain and failures when parenting your Exceptional Children? Have you become stronger as a result? I can tell you from personal experience and in my work, most parents and caregivers become stronger from pain and suffering. It does not mean we seek out pain because we are masochists, but rather we learn that our pain is there to teach us something, and help us overcome obstacles. When we do that, we will see that all life for us and our children is a cycle of pain and joy. We will learn to ride it and not only survive, but thrive. We will also teach our children to do the same thing. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.