Do you ever get the feeling you are the only one in the whole world with a child like yours? Do you wonder if there is anyone 'out there' who understands?
You go to a playgroup and moms are sitting and chatting while you chase your child and are constantly 'harping' on him to put that down and be aware of his surroundings. Other parents think you're overprotective, too strict, or not strict enough. Your parenting skills are under scrutiny and your thoughts are filled with getting out of there without incident.
You finally do get to visit parents without chasing your child because your husband felt sorry for you or did something that warranted guilt, so you are getting of the house. You know that's the only way because there isn't enough money in the world to pay a babysitter without her having insurance, she may not get out of alive! The competition begins about who has the 'best' child. "My child talked at 12 months and said 'cup'", "My child talked full sentences by the time they were two", "My child was toilet trained by 15 months" and now you are wondering how much of it is exaggerated and how much of it is true. Finally you are brave and you pipe in, "My child talked at 4 yrs old and was toilet trained last month at 7 yrs old". Now you get the pity look - side head tilt with a slight nod. You were quite proud of those moments and you are wondering why they aren't praising the moment as you did!
Photo: Horton Grou, Stock.XCHNG
Now you're on the hunt for like-minded parents and decide to join a support group with parents that have children that match your child's issues. You enter a room tentatively and everyone seems nice enough. Then the competitions begin about who has it the 'worse'! The depression grows as you wonder if your child will ever improve because these parents are veterans after all and they are telling you horror story after horror story! You feel like you are pregnant again and you are hearing the stories of delivery that gave you nightmares.
You turn to family because they are the only ones that have always been there. They are so glad 'you brought it up' because they have been wanting to be 'open' with you. Now that you are not talking to them anymore, where do you turn?
Our days are filled with therapy appointments, learning, house cleaning, and some of us work on top of it all! We don't have time for friendships that bond and we are okay with that. Friends who previously were supportive have ditched us because they don't understand our children or our lives. We don't hold it against them because we hardly understand what has happened to us! Days turn to months which turn to years and you look back and think, now what?
We have the home advantage. Years ago there was no internet, no groups, no life 'outside' the home but these days, we can leave virtually! We are NOT alone! We have found groups of people that we can sip tea with and email. We can share how our children won't tolerate seams in socks with people who understand! We have people who understand the differences between meltdowns and temper tantrums. We can share resources of where to get discount pricing on cooling vests. We can read over conversations with humour and accomplishments, woes and tears. Some of us are blessed to live in places that offer affordable services for our children and have great groups! For those of us who do not have such blessings, we are extremely thankful for the online world. We may seem pathetic to other people but we know, if those people spent one week in our house, they would sing our praises and wouldn't be grudge a moment! We know, we need this virtual world of real people, who understand!We are SUPER-MOMs and we have SUPER-KIDs. We can leap laundry in a single bound while we reschedule the next therapy appointment, simultaneously. We can turn supper into a therapy session with a simple blend of green mashed potatoes. We are able to advocate to every cashier, critic, and doctor. We know our children better than anyone and we aren't afraid to use these superpowers to help them! We want to celebrate these accomplishments and gain support without being judged negatively but offer and receive help with constructive, loving criticism. We aren't in competition with who has it the worse or who has it the best. We are aware of reality. Special needs children with special moms are SUPER-MOMs with SUPER-KIDs!I would like to give a special shout out to my 'online world' and give links for you to join these groups too! Whether you homeschool your special needs child or not, these groups will accept you. I have found support, information, laughter, tears of understanding, and kindness with my world of SUPER-MOMs. I hope you do too!All Kinds Of Learners Yahoo Group Special Needs Parents Homeschooling Special Needs Kids Yahoo Group Special Needs Homeschool Yahoo Group (our group for this website) If you are on Facebook: Special Needs Homeschool All Kinds Of Learners Special Needs Parents Homeschooling Special Needs Kids Children With Multiple Disabilities Parenting Kiddo's With Invisible Disabilities Sensory Street, Inc.
Jennifer Bolton has been home educating since 2000. Both of her boys have special needs. She has worked with children since 1998 as an Early Childhood Educator, Child and Youth Worker, Special Services at Home, Day Cares, Home Child Care provider, volunteered at clubs, childrens' programs, and Foster Care. Her current projects include the sites and support groups listed above, in addition to educating her boys at home.