Okay, friends. I’m going to get real in this post, and it’s making me a bit uncomfortable. But really, if you aren’t writing something that feels a bit weird to admit out loud [or I guess on paper.. not quite, errr keyboard?] then why are you writing?
So that said, special needs moms need support. We aren’t magically transformed into super mom, and you don’t instantly grow ten more arms as soon as your child receives a diagnosis. Oh, how I wish that would happen.
Unfortunately, we think we should. We go from “mom” or “stay at home mom” or even “work at home mom” to a “special needs mom”. It can be quite a shock, really. I remember crying on the phone to my best friend saying that I just want to be one of “those special needs moms” that have it all together.
They know all the tricks and can stop their child’s meltdown from a mile away. They have no trouble getting to therapy the recommended 15 minutes early, and they don’t even have to give their kids their iPhone to play on so they don’t scream while waiting to go in. You know her, she’s that mom.
I am not that mom. I am that mom who cries at my mom’s group because A-Man is having another meltdown, and I just can’t even try to stop him anymore. I am the mom who shows up at therapy as close to the start time as physically possible because if we are there longer than two minutes, the fishies will fail to keep my kids’ attention, and it will be a nightmare for all involved.
I’m the mom that takes snacks with me nearly everywhere, and gives them to A-Man whenever I feel a meltdown coming, and I’m the mom that nurses Baby M nearly constantly because it’s easier than him screaming at me.
Unfortunately, I’m also the mom that says “we don’t need any help, but thank you so much for offering!” or “You’re so sweet, but we’re doing okay” when people ask if I need help. Because I’m a special needs mom, and we are supposed to do everything ourselves, right? Wrong.
Special Needs Moms Need Support Too
So how do you support a special needs mom when you haven’t had a child with special needs and don’t know what it’s like? Especially when that mom is
stubborn independent like me and says she doesn’t need any help?
Listen to Her
So this one is really basic, but it is vital. If your friend who has a special needs child is actually talking to you about drs and referrals and therapies and insurance headaches, listen. It may make absolutely no sense to you, and that’s okay. Listen anyways.
It can be really hard to open up about our special needs kids with friends and family who haven’t had special needs kids because of a few reasons. One is that we have to talk to strangers about it often. “What’s wrong with him” is unfortunately a question we hear a lot of, and sometimes we don’t feel like discussing it anymore. Sometimes we don’t talk about special needs because people can be accidentally hurtful. In fact, I have a whole post on what not to say to an autism mama.
Other times, we just feel like a burden to our friends. So if we are talking to you about the new weighted blanket we just got, or that our 17 month old is learning to sit up correctly, be excited with us. If we just got another evaluation with bad news, be sad with us and pray with and for us. Mostly just listen to us.
This one is tough. It’s an extremely sweet offer, and sometimes it is very necessary. Plus, it could mean many different things. I have one sweet friend who watched Mr. C while I took A-Man and Baby M to therapy. Now that my mom is off, she can do it, but without a friend offering, I would have had all three kiddos trying to balance everything.
I’ll admit, I am extremely picky on who babysits A-Man. He gets very nervous around new people and places, and his meltdowns can turn violent quickly. With Baby M it’s also difficult because until very recently he was exclusively nursed. He is taking very limited solids now, but it can be hard to arrange.
Still, offer to watch your friends kids for an afternoon. Want to take it a step further? When you hang out with your friend and her kids, make a special effort to get to know her child with special needs so that she can let you babysit without constant worry.
(Who am I kidding, she’ll still worry and text you the whole time she’s gone!)
Seriously, food can be such a blessing to special needs moms. It is exhausting to be on the go all day from therapies, to homeschooling, to therapy activities at home, and battling naptimes. By the end of the day, we are spent. The last thing on our minds is what to make for dinner with the nothing we pulled out of the freezer. I am lucky in that Chris does
most all of our cooking, so he figures things out when he gets home from work.
Even still, we eat a lot of fast food because there wasn’t any time to make a real meal at home. A lot of special needs moms struggle with accepting meals from friends because they feel like it’s their “job” to get food on the table.
Also, a lot of kids with special needs are on fairly strict diets that are hard to work into the traditional meals people send over. So if you really want to be a rock star, ask about allergies or diet restrictions, and find a meal that the whole family can enjoy. It isn’t too scary, try pinterest. There’s all sorts of “hack” recipes on there.
When a friend has a new baby, a preemie in the hospital, or even has a surgery, people tend to chip in and help. It’s understood that people need support when things go crazy. The thing with being a special needs mom is that things are always going crazy. We may need support more often than other parents, but that doesn’t make us needy. Trust me, if you do any of these three simple things for a special needs mom in your life, she’ll be extremely grateful.
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