Hi there, I’m Sharon. Yep, Sharon. Right now I’m choosing not to answer to Mom, Hon, Mama, Woof, Meow or the other names I am referred to at varying decibels depending on specific need in our house. At this very moment, I’m just me. Glad to meet you.
I have to laugh at the way I came to be here, typing away on a computer screen reaching out to others like me who wouldn’t know me if we passed on the street. Oh, you might recognize a kindred sister spirit as you see me dealing with the rigors of being a mom to children with special needs. I’m the one who looks exhausted in the checkout line since one little “angel” (insert sarcasm here) didn’t get enough sleep last night. I’m that woman who is pointing to cows out of her vehicle window to distract the screeching child in the back. I’m that Mom who isn’t at the ball games because she is allowing Dad sometime with his older son since the youngest couldn’t deal with the sensory overload—let alone screech because he couldn’t join “Bubby” on the field. I’m that Mom who wishes, just once, I didn’t have to juggle my insurance card, the appointment visit sheet, and her datebook at the reception desk all the while trying to wrangle the aforementioned angel who exceeded his patience level with the doctor. (I really hate feeling like a circus performer juggling way too many balls on that one.) I’m also that Mom in church who alternates between standing at the back of church trying to keep one child entertained or sitting in the pew making exaggerated facial expressions to “remind” the older child to stay engaged during the mass. I could go on with my descriptions; but like I said…you already know me. The reflections may be different in the respective mirrors…but we would be able to “recognize” each other anyway.
When an email about Hopeful Parents came from a colleague at work, the timing was painfully poignant. I was having one of those days we all experience when I was really tired of being THE Mom in my world. I was feeling lost among the daily schools logs, calls to the doctor about changing doses or confirming appointments, paperwork for the upcoming school year (it’s still summer for goodness sakes!), scheduling CSE meetings, routine changes, summer restlessness, dog barking, cats hissing, one child whining about this, the other child screeching for that, laundry piling up, my Mom leaving a guilt-laden voice mail about not having heard from me in awhile, having to remember to refill several prescriptions, planning for a summer vacation (Am I crazy?!), waiting for the van to be finished at the garage, desperately trying some music therapy as a distraction and half a dozen others things my frazzled mind can’t recall just as Dad wanders in the kitchen wondering what’s for dinner. AARGH!!! These are the times when I feel I’m no longer me…just some overworked, underappreciated facilitator for all that transpires from alarm clock—or youngest son jumping on me in bed—to the time my head crashes into the pillow at night. So, the notice that this site was looking for parents willing to share their perspective and offer a grassroots form of support was like someone handing me a temporary escape if you will. It’s a chance to reconnect with the often forgotten inner persona while typing away on the keyboard.
I am familiar—far too familiar—with the need for support when you are raising children with special needs. Being a parent requires support period; being a parent of children with special needs requires truckloads. And if it takes a village to raise a child, I’d like to know where that village disappears to when there really is a need. Oh sure, there is a village there at times…it’s just a more bureaucratic and formalized village most of the time. And while the help is there, it can leave us feeling a bit lost and glassy-eyed as we wander down the formal streets from one place to another. Sometimes, we just want a more emotional connection—a chance to feel more human than robotic. Or at least give you a chance to feel somewhat warmer than the tepid coffee left sitting on the counter.
Support should help you stand taller. Support should feel like a really good cup of sugar-free hazelnut cappuccino with cocoa shavings (my particular favorite). It should warm you inside, give you that jolt you need to keep going, appeal to your inner “well-being” (I consider coffee an necessity…don’t you?), and make you realize there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about reaching out for support. (Hence the sugar-free part.) Too many people think that they need to go it alone, or no one understands so they quit looking, or they are somehow less of a parent if they admit that there are some days that can drive you to your knees. No, my friends, support is as vital as breathing and as nourishing for the soul. We all need that reminder to replenish the supply from time to time. Thanks for the reminder.
So, thanks for providing me with some support by allowing me the “indulgence” of being Sharon for a short while. It’s nice to have “someone out there” who will listen to me—especially when it feels the ones downstairs aren’t giving me that courtesy. And even if you never pass me on the street or recognize me in the grocery store, know I appreciate the support. Ok, deep breath and pass the sugar-free hazelnut cappuccino …I’m going back in.