The other day I found myself getting angry, frustrated, and sad at a parenting article I read in a magazine. It wasn’t a piece on the pros and cons of feeding your kid sugar, whether I’m a good or bad mother because I stay home, or whether my youngest child is forever damaged because I bottle fed him but nursed his older brother and sister.
It wasn’t on any of the millions of hot button issues that can make parenting sites go crazy and garner a ton of media attention.
The piece in question was a very simple and straightforward article aimed at new moms about some of the hardest times a parent can go through. Times like the first time your precious child says, I hate you, is sad because nobody wants to play with them, or says they like daddy better. These are all heartbreaking times I’ve experienced as a mom of three. They are far from fun. I don’t want to make light of them.
But I was sad, angry, jealous, and I admit it, feeling more than a bit sorry for myself, because while those days were hard and painful as a new mom, they can’t hold a candle to some of the other days I have experienced as a mom to a child with significant special needs.
There was a day I prayed the earth would swallow me up because a doctor was telling me my then two-year-old daughter’s MRI showed significant brain damage.
There were endless nights where she would scream at an ungodly pitch and thrash around not quite sleeping but not awake either. Not one doctor could tell me why.
There were countless tests, appointments with specialists, and meetings with a variety of therapists and teachers. There were looks of concern and even pity from professionals, friends, and family.
There was the day I realized that despite all the amazing medical care, teachers, and therapies my daughter received and continues to receive, she will never lead anything remotely close to the normal life I had always assumed she would be able to live.
When you have a child with significant special needs, a life-threatening condition, or a serious illness, your parenting experience is forever altered, and you are changed.
I am not the same naive young mom who thought she could solve any problem that came her way. I know better. I know bad things can happen to me and to people I love. I no longer think I’m immune to the worst life can dish out. Most days I am OK with that. In fact, I find the strength that I have found and the knowledge that I can handle anything extremely empowering. I cherish the good days we have with our amazing girl and the family we have created, and I laugh. A lot.
Yet there are days when I wish I didn’t have to be so strong.
When I wasn’t the person her teacher calls to inform me of a new, never-seen-from-her-before behavior that has her team concerned.
There are days I want to just scream at the top of my lungs that I’ve had enough, and feel as if I will never survive the daunting task of raising such a special and complicated child.
There are days when my friends’ and families’ reassurances that I’m a good mother and that God or Lizzy picked me for a reason leave me wanting to use every four-letter word I know on a person whose only crime is trying to make me feel better.
There are times when I wish that parenting my beautiful daughter didn’t present such a complex range of problems that don’t have easy solutions.
Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. Kathy is the author of the viral post An Open Letter to My Teenage Son About Drinking. She is a Huffington Post blogger and a frequent contributor to What the Flicka and Scary Mommy. Her work has also been featured on, Yahoo, Elephant Journal, What to Expect, and other online publications. Kathy lives outside New York City with her family. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter and on her blog, My Dishwasher’s Possessed.