Happy New Year Exceptional Families! I hope your holidays were happy, healthy, safe and joyful, at least to some degree. In Exceptional Families we often have so many ups and downs, it is hard to know where one ends and one begins. Our holiday, much like last year, was filled with many ups and downs. Once Dad and I sat back and evaluated things though, we did what all parents in our situation do. We looked back, learned from what we did wrong, and looked at what we did right. First things first, I preached so much about self-care to others, but did not practice much of it before the holidays began. I was tired on Christmas morning due to the usual end of school/vacation anxiety Michael exhibits along with holiday hyperactivity combined with the mental health issues Michael is grappling with. Whew! Then I wondered why I had a good long cry on Christmas Eve after Michael finally fell asleep way after 10:00 pm and was wiped on Christmas night when our long day began at 5:00 and ended at 10:00 pm. I was so tired I was barely seeing straight. Dad was too. And we knew Michael would be up early, would be out of routine, so next year we know how important resting up for the holidays will be for us.
On the positive side, Michael had many good moments at both sides of the family’s homes. It was far from perfect, but I look back and see that in spite of his clear anxiety, difficulty controlling emotions and organizing himself, underneath all the acronyms that may soon join autism is the sweet little boy that I love. On December 26th and 27th we sledded before the deep freeze. We enjoyed celebrating his birthday and he used some money and gift cards he received from family to buy board games. I saw his intelligence when he played with me and was reminded of his amazing navigation skills when we drove around the neighborhood together over last week and the week before. Then there were the play dates with friends where he did so well. He said and did many kind things over the break, told me he misses cooking and baking with me (we did a bit before the holidays began), and asked “Mommy, why are you so grumpy in the morning?” I had been unintentionally waking up every morning after Christmas in fear on pins and needles thinking what is he going to do next? How will I handle his verbal aggression, threats towards us, his screaming, any of his new behaviors? It was like living with a time bomb. That is when I realized that if I stayed calm it would help us all. I began to finally practice self-care. I prioritized long baths in the early evening, went to a Hamamm with a friend, and went back to daily yoga and meditation. My head started to clear. I started to see my own anger and feelings of fear as legitimate and started healing me so I could help Michael get calm and heal. Dad and I even squeezed in a date night and had many conversations about him practicing better self-care and how he would be better equipped to handle Michael’s outbursts if he remembered as terrible as they are, they are a cry for help.
That’s it people. When our kids are not well-physically, psychologically and spiritually they lash out. They lash out at those they love most. They say the most horrible things if they are not well. Kids with exceptional brains are wired differently. They don’t read emotional cues the same way. They don’t process body language the same way. They have delays and it is reflected in how they handle anger. I know this , yet as a Mom I get emotionally hurt when Michael says terrible things. I am learning though, and am here to remind all of you, that you can’t take what your kids say to heart. They are not themselves when they are saying awful things. That is where support for the family comes in through parents coaches, psychologists, and other health care professionals that can give the whole family what they need to get through the rough patches, structure a healthier home routine for all, and move forward in a positive way together. Our family is doing this. 2018 will be our year to do better individually so that as a family we can thrive.
So what were the things I learned NOT to do in 2018? Here is a list of 5:
- Neglect my own spirit: Never abandon things that keep you whole physically, emotionally and spiritually. They are the glue that will hold you together in tough times. For me it’s meditation, yoga, reading and writing. For you it may be something different.
- Not call family, friends or go out : Call up friends, therapists, family. You need to remember you are not alone when you feel like you most are.
- Think that one mistake means I have failed as a Mom: As a parent you will fail with your child many times. It is not the end. It is the beginning of learning so you become stronger and better. Now I try and remember when I mess up, now I know better for next time.
- Don’t look into respite or update list of babysitters: You must have an outlet and a safe person and place for your child to go and you to recharge. Look into respite and babysitters who can help you and your child take a family break and come back stronger.
- Believe that hard times mean I am not the right person to raise my son: Yes, those thoughts passed through my mind in some of the more challenging moments of 2017. That is when I realized how tired I am as a parent and human being and how I needed to do things to have hope again. I created a Vision Board all around two words-happiness and abundance. Hope is what many people saw from it.
Exceptional Parents, what did you learn not to do in 2018? What are some of the things you did right? Remember, we are always learning. That is what life is about. The important thing is to move forward and remember at the base of all the pain and struggle is love for your child. Happiness will be yours and theirs if you forge ahead learning from the past and making positive strides in the future. 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.