Is there such a thing as stress free parenting?
Recently I was speaking to a fellow Special Needs parent, we were discussing the stress that often accompanies parenting a special needs kid. And yes, I agree there is a tremendous amount of information, appointments, therapies, teachers, specialists and so on. And let's be honest, who wouldn't like a special assistant to help keep it all straight. Am I right?
This particular parent was feeling really overwhelmed by feeling that they couldn't "connect" with their child. I suggested that maybe doing some reading about a particular condition via blogs or maybe Dr. Google could help; as there is so much helpful information online, resource sites, support messages boards, etc.
Then, the crux of the matter.
"I expected a baby without any disability. I shouldn't NEED to Google it."
So my immediate thought was 'Whoa, you have issues!'
This was obvious frustration and then, while I took a deep breath, the tables turned.
Why was I not "unhappy" about this too?
(Apparently I was not exhibiting quite enough stress, or anger, or disillusionment -- take your pick.)
As much as I tried to understand where they were coming from I couldn't.
Yes, it's true I expected a typical baby too. And I definitely got more than I bargained for in the delivery room, but the truth is I cannot explain what is it that makes someone more (or less) accepting of the situation.
Were they passing out awards as we were discharged from the hospital that I was unaware of?
She'll handle it well, She'll be an advocate, She'll walk away, She'll champion the cause, She'll cry every day for years.
Why I am not lamenting my bad fortune at having a child with more medical needs than other 3 year olds, heck... more than some 90 year olds?
Does it make me a "better" parent because I am not bitter about it?
Am I really in denial?
If my son had been born typical, would I spend any less time on Google or in support forums, as I had suggested?
That's an easy answer. No.
I know this because I spent countless hours online in a support forum when I was expecting. I gathered daily with other moms-to-be. We all had the same desire, a healthy baby. And when things didn't quite turn out for us, I mustered as much grace as I could and I made an exit. Not because they made me feel bad or less of a parent...but because I had a new set of concerns. I set out to find those answers.
If things had gone differently I would probably still be there. I'd just be looking for different kinds of answers to different kinds of questions. Maybe I'd be comparing car seats instead of craniofacial surgeons. But hey, guess what? SN kids need car seats too.
So in many ways I guess I am doing some of the same things typical moms are doing, just with a twist.
Long ago I resolved to widen my circle of support and face the world to be the best parent I can. I'd like to think I'd still do the same, special needs or not.
So to answer the question, would my life be any less stressful if I had a typical child? Probably.
But stress free? Not a chance.
Janis Marie is a full-time mom, freelance writer and blogger. Highly regarded and respected for her ‘tell it like it is’ approach; she created and maintains Sneak Peek at Me to chronicle her son’s life and complex medical journey.
Through her blog and affiliations, Janis works year-round to promote awareness and acceptance for those living with a rare disease diagnosis.