Thursday, July 2, 2009

How do you make it through?

This guest post is from Mia, one of the first bloggers I met when I dipped my toe into the blogosphere. She writes over at General Hysteria about her humorous and sometimes heart-wrenching journey of raising three young children, one with special needs.

I donʼt know how I make it through sometimes. More accurately, I sometimes donʼt know if I will make it through. How do any of us?

I ask myself that almost each day that I wake to the playful screaming of a self-stimulating 6 year old boy at 5 am. Those days, I initially am thankful that itʼs not the dreaded, usual 1 am, latest of 3 am. Those days I take a deep breath and gauge his excitement, his unintelligible ramblings, count any words, listen for any wall banging. Those days, in the fog of a wakefulness I resist, I entertain the number of things that need to get done, decipher our schedule, determine what and how Iʼm going to make it through.

Ellen is finding herself on a much needed vacation, which of course got me wondering… for me, for families like ours where we canʼt seem to manage to get away for a number of reasons, how do we make our own mini-vacations? How do we manage to get ourselves through our days, weeks, years?

On a clear day, clouds erased from my mind, I am able to play mind games. No, Iʼm not going to list the usual of getting away, get a massage, make a break. The truth is, for most special needs families, thatʼs among the impossible recommendations of the most well-meaning of all of us. I play mind games. Revealing myself on a blog that I donʼt own, I want you to know that Iʼm constantly writing in my mind. The commentary doesnʼt end...that is my “thing." That is my strength, my weapon of choice to give me the push, the shoulder, the strength to live my life.

My life which I laughingly call Fear Factor. No partially hatched (or whatever it was) eggs, no pig slop; I wonʼt be lying in a pool of spiders nor find myself dangling from some ridiculously high platform wondering why I signed up for this. For me, my Fear Factor is in terms of commentary on my daily juggles, the constant writing of posts in my mind as if watching a video from behind my eyes, listening to my audienceʼs gasps, “awwws” and laughter. Nope, not crazy - just finding the humor.

Yes, humor is the main way we can make it through. Why not find the humor in how our children need to have their pancakes formulated to perfection? Why not help our children find the humor in their life situations, their spills that donʼt truly hurt? Why not remind ourselves that though we didnʼt ʻsign upʼ for it, no one could take our place and we wouldnʼt willing give up our part anyway. Use the self-talk that we all have in a positive, laughable way.

But guiding your inner speak towards humor can be extremely difficult. It took me close to 4 ½ years to be able to do this, and it doesnʼt occur each day. But when it does happen, it helps. When it doesnʼt, I turn to music. Music lifts the spirit and soothes the soul...or something like that. What I do know is that Iʼve started taking note of what songs unfold a part of my being without prompting; what music invokes a feeling I thought long gone, an uncontrollable, heart-aching happiness emerge from my depths. I note these tunes, the artists. I keep them in mind (okay, I canʼt remember anything, so I actually have to write them down...where is that sticky anyway) and find them. I listen to them, recall the feelings they invoke and bring
those lyrics, that tune, the movement, to the surface during times where I think my mind might be lost for good. And the kids love the change they see in me.

The change can come in other ways too Little steals of time that cost nothing. Long showers, buckling your kids up and taking a drive, talking with other parents of special needs kids. Take the 10 minutes to polish your toes in between tweets after the kids are down, Tivo your favorite shoes and give yourself a late night marathon, lose yourself in a good book.

Weʼd all love to get away. Gain access to the out of reach week away in a new place, a warm beach, sand between the toes, sweet reminiscent smells of coconut sun tan lotion. But if we canʼt, we have to find our own little secret ways of getting away, our own “thing” for finding the strength to make it to the next day. For in that next day, something special will happen, if weʼre ready.

So, what about you, what do you do?


Photo by Halighalie


  1. Walking! I became an avid walker MANY years after my sons were born. First it was to loose the 50 pounds I gained AFTER childbirth because I was just sad! I was able to loose all the weight and now keep it off, sensibly and cheaply! The greatest invention has been the Ipod. At first I carried a CD player but now I make up my playlists, different ones for different moods! I have found getting out alone to walk and listen to music my salvation!

  2. I just....stay busy. I have to work, there's no way around that, and being a single mother of two kids with special needs would probably be a bit daunting if I had a lot of time to think about it. I don't have much spare time, so I don't think about it too much--my life is my normal, and I just carry on and don't worry about it too much.

    My parents give me my mini-vacations. Grampa takes the boys fishing, or they "help" him work on his truck, or sometimes Grandma will take the boys for a few hours and they'll help her make cookies or brownies or make puppets out of old sweat socks. When I have to work nights, they've got a room at my folks' place and they love it there.

    They also have a whole load of toys and games over there as well, it's like a home away from home. My parents do spell me, alot, either coming to my place or me dropping the boys off, and I couldn't get by without them. I then can luxuriate in perfect silence as I push the cart up and down the grocery store aisles or run other errands!

    We don't "go away" for vacations much, but we do go to the lake, go on picnics, and have fun close by home.

    Life is OK. Not perfect, but it's OK.

    It sure beats the alternative! And every day, it gets a bit better.

  3. Ellen~ The funniest thing is that at the time you've posted this, I needed to pick myself back up and move forward again. Re-reading my own words and thinking about how to rejuvenate myself worked wonders. Perfect timing.

    Hope you're enjoying this weekend!


Thanks for sharing!

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