A place for parents of special needs kids

RSS 2.0


Parenting is a lesson in one’s own self. I firmly believe this. It is a constant exercise in self-reflection. It is a work in progress that moves forward at a rapid pace. It is when we stop and take stock that we make change.

I have often thought about how my personality and my actions affect my children.

Sometimes this is an easy thing to do. Other times it is heart wrenching.

I have practiced this many times with my son. But now it is my daughter who is forcing me to look within.

My daughter has always been a vivacious kid. From birth, this kid has always called the shots in her own life. She has been strong, yet flexible. She has been smart, yet still silly.

We have often treated her as the older sibling to Jackson, as his issues sometimes make it difficult for him to do things. So, it was always easier to ask Ella to step in and lend a hand. Never did I think that it would come back to bite us.

We are now beginning a new phase with Ella. She has shown us, over the last several months that she has been hiding some serious anxiety. It has manifested itself in a way that I never thought.

My once chill kiddo has become rigid and inflexible at times. She has developed mood swings and shifts that I never saw coming. It is rough. For me. My easy kid is now demanding more. She NEEDS more from me. How did I take her for granted? Did I take advantage of her deep empathy towards others? How many mistakes that I’ve made brought her to this point?

In the course of her treatment for anxiety, I will be forced to take a good, hard look at myself. How do I know this? Because as I embark on the journey, in just the first two sessions that I have had with the psychologist, I realize that the picture I’m painting of my daughter sounds a hell of a lot like me. Like me as a kid, like me as an adult. Which makes me wonder how much of this was inherent in Ella, and how much is the pressure I have placed on her through my own ways?

As we were visiting with old friends this weekend, I was telling my friend how Ella seems to have this need to keep everything together, keep herself and those around her in control and happy. How, at such a young age, she seems to feel responsible for others and feels a deep sense of responsibility for everyone’s well being. And how she seems inflexible. My friend turns to me and says, “Sounds like someone else I know.”

This was said in only the way someone who has known you for most of your life, and has seen you at your best and your worst, seen you go through some really rough times, and has still remained a constant in your life. It was said with love.

But, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I hadn’t even thought that this was how I was. I mean, I could see that as myself today, but forgot (oh, how easy it is to do) that I have been like this most of my life. The one who is always the responsible one. The one who feels they need to keep their shit together because everyone around them doesn’t have theirs together. The kid who is so serious that she forgets to actually BE a kid. And now, as an adult, has this engrained in her so that it is difficult when she doesn’t get what she wants, that she forgets how to have fun, places demands on others in her life that she KNOWS are unrealistic.

I don’t want this for my girl. I loved her carefree self. Her confident, no holds barred attitude. I envied it. I worshipped the fact that she was capable of that kind of confidence at such a young age. I said it constantly!

I remember when Ella was in preschool her teachers telling me that she had such zeal for life and that my job was to never let that fire die out. Rather, to keep it ablaze.

And I have failed. I don’t know if it is genetics or how I have raised her, but she has taken on pieces of my personality that I never wished her to have. These are heavy burdens for an adult. For a child, they are immense. I don’t remember how I felt as a young kid keeping it all together. I just did it. I was a good girl who did my chores, and did my schoolwork and didn’t really act out, ever! Sure, as a teenager I rebelled a bit (Nose ring in college? Sure!) but I still got good grades, went to college, pursued a career, got married, had a family. I FUNCTIONED. But I have always maintained that “fine” is not good enough when it comes to my kids. I want to be better for them. This is probably why I do too much, and put demands on myself that are a wee bit lofty. But I do them, I do it all. I like the feeling when everything is checked off a list. I also can’t relax until EVERYTHING is checked off that list though. I don’t give myself a break until all my stuff is done.

I don’t want this for her. I want more for her. I want her to be happy, not done. I want her to experience life, actually LIVE life, not just get through the day.

So, my introspection has brought me here: I need to start living my life. I need to start taking chances, and being silly, and calling my own shots. I have to live with tasks unfinished, to do lists uncompleted. I need to lead by example.

For her.

Always for her AND for him, because they are too special to me. They are the reason I want more, strive for more, but they are my teachers too. The road goes both ways and we are partners on the journey.

Let the good times roll!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become a Subscriber

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required