My life is not boring. This is my opening joke to most people I meet if I hear them complain they are bored and that life is not exciting. I will add for effect, “Oh my life is exciting. I never know what curve ball my son is going to throw at me next.” Sometimes this is meant to be funny, sometimes not. Regardless, in all moments I love Michael very much. I also remind myself that life is not boring for him and is exciting, sometimes overly exciting. His nervous system can go into warp speed sometimes, and at other times he regulates well. It makes for quite the family life.
Today was a calm morning, afternoon and I was told evening. I was out at my weekly writing workshop, and though Michael was up waiting for me when I came home, he did reasonably well with Dad. I was happy to hear this. Every victory is celebrated, particularly as there has been lots of tension between the two lately. Michael also realized today when his energy and silliness was through the roof, that rather than lose his reward, he would self-regulate by going out in the yard and playing soccer. I was so proud he recognized what he had to do. There was also a healthy use of deep breathing to handle anger when he got upset. This is excellent as there have been other days when things did not go well and self-regulation only happened AFTER an aggressive act.
Dad and I are also learning to use our strategies to handle our highs and lows living as exceptional parents. My writing workshops, workouts, and outings with friends are my respites and ways to recharge so that I can keep my anger, fear and frustration in check. These things help me ride out the tough moments as a Mom when I want to run for the hills and not look back. I am realizing how important self-care is every day, as well as having a sense of humor, especially when times are rough. It does not mean laughing at your child or situation, but it means seeing the joy in the beautiful moments when they use their strategies, open up about their feelings, hug you, and share their dreams. It also means enjoying the beauty of a sunrise, the quiet pitter patter of rain falling, the purring cat at your feet, or a wonderful song on the radio.
Some days it is all too much. I worry, am I doing enough as Michael’s Mom to give him opportunities to socialize, learn, laugh, move? What therapies does he really need and which ones can we wait on? Finally I worry, will I make it on this rocky road to see him to adulthood and not lose my sense of humor, sense of self, and also importantly, my belief in what he is capable of? Some days are so hard. One day many many years ago when Michael first started having aggressive behaviors and the tools that worked did not work any longer, I shared with my mother how frustrated and scared I was. I said, “I can’t do this anymore. He needs another mother.” She sympathized, but reminded me he was my son and I could not stop fighting for him. I realized she had misunderstood my worry. I then clarified. I was scared I was the wrong Mom for Michael. I told her he needed a Mom who was patient, calm, strong. I was anxious. I lost my temper and patience. She said that every Mom got angry, lost patience and was anxious. She said I was strong, stronger than I knew. I had believe in me and my love for him. She was right. I prayed many times to God then, and since then, to give me the strength to continue fighting the good fight. I also pray now that I continue to learn ways to take care of me so that I can remain strong, positive and tell Michael that I will always be there for him, no matter what.
So I’ve realized that the way to survive the tough days and coast through the easy ones are the same. Take care of myself by doing the things that fill me with joy. This will help me encourage Michael to find the things that fill him with joy. He has lost so much happiness over the course of the last two years. Puberty, Type 1 Diabetes and more complex anxieties and attention issues have caused his self-esteem to plummet. He is questioning his religious beliefs, friendships and his father’s and my love. We are telling him daily that he is smart, loved, and that we all believe in him. Seeing us, his parents, doing the things that we love, is helping him find the road back to doing the things he used to love and finding new loves.
Even on the days when harsh words and actions occur, I can honestly say to myself Michael’s potential for greatness is there and is growing. It is painful that he could lose his future if troublesome behaviors are not under control. Dad and I worry if we are doing enough to get him back on the right track. Judging by the progression that is happening though, I think he and we are well on our way to living life a little easier among the chaos of exceptional family life.
Exceptional Parents, how do you ride out the highs and lows of your exceptional family life? Just remember, self-care for you goes a long way to giving you strength to be there for your child in every way. Also, even at their most difficult, always see the child behind the behavior. That is who is trying to come out and needs your help to grapple with fear, anger and uncertainty. 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