Why Some Parents of Special Needs Kids are Chronically Late
I used to be on time to everything. It was a point of pride for me. Then I had kids. Not just kids, but hard kids with some big challenges. Franky, I believe a series of miracles have to occur for parents of special needs kids to make it to their destination. (Maybe with the help of a legion of unseen guardian angels.) Four kids later, it’s not that I’ve given up on being on time. I still try, like REALLY REALLY try, but it rarely seems to work out. If you’re a special needs parent, what exactly does happen in the process of attempting to get your foot out the door? Does it look a little something like this . . .
You look at the calendar and realize you’re scheduled to leave the house today. Maybe even to multiple places.
Miracle #1: You’re not in the fetal position but you’ve gathered up the courage to leave the house whether you have to go with or without your child.
You think ahead. What do I need to take with me for where I’m going?
My child’s medication, my medication, snacks, water, things to entertain my child, things to entertain me, first aid kit, comfort food for when my child melts down (not for him but for me), kitchen sink?
Miracle #2: You manage to get everything together that you might possibly need for said outing, including your kid if he’s going with you (who has already had a complete meltdown over being interrupted in what he’s doing and doesn’t want to get in the car.)
If your child is staying at home you relay instructions to whoever is babysitting, you explain the rules, the consequences, what must happen before you return home, what is absolutely NOT allowed to happen before you return home, what should NEVERhappen under any circumstances ever EVER(because they happened the last time you left.)
Miracle #3: You make it out the door to your car. But you realize you’ve forgotten a few things like locking up stuff that needs to be locked up, leaving things out that needs to be left out (night medication for bedtime), a few more babysitting instructions. You enter the house and discover the rules already being broken. You issue a few more final consequences/threats . . . uh . . . I mean reminders.
Miracle #4: You make it out the door again and snap your seatbelt on. If you are bringing your child with you, he’s already slammed the door to the house, the door to the car, and has probably thrown a few things around the car. If there are other children in the car, he’s currently insulting them and picking fights with them.
Miracle #5: You’re not completely exhausted by this point or panicked about leaving and have a little bit of energy to pull off your plan. You ignore the voice in your head begging you to go back into the house and crawl back into bed. You actually pull out of your driveway and pull out of your neighborhood.
If your child, or in my case children, are in your car with you then chances are the drive isn’t full of summer camp songs of kumbaya and kids sharing toys. It’s more like the World Wide Wrestling Federation with you as the referee only you’re desperately trying to NOT stop the car and be even more late.
Miracle #6: You don’t turn the car around and return home. You and all the occupants of your car make it to your destination alive. Bonus: despite the number of times you’ve had to look in your rearview mirror or turn your head to referee said occupants during the car ride, everyone driving around you arrives at their destination alive as well.
You brace yourself for your public appearance. And you give yourself a pep talk. This is it! You can do this! You gather up your energy, your game face, and arrive.
Late, of course.
But you’ve arrived.
Miracle #7: Staying the course. If you brought your child with you, kudos if you manage to make it through the whole time. It’s a herculean effort. If you left your child at home, whether with others or as a measure of trust that she learn how to manage by herself without you, it’s also that herculean effort managing the anxiety and the what if’s (as well as the multiple phone calls from home).
Miracle #8: Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is that you keep on trying. Others may not understand. They may view your lateness as a sign of not caring, not realizing how much you really care, how much you’re trying day in and day out to take care of, to teach, to manage, and to survive raising a special needs child.
So, are you chronically late? Or are you chronically trying to be on time?
All I can say is, whether you get all the way to miracle #8 or not isn’t the point.
Day in and day out you do courageous things for your child that no one sees.
Don’t worry about being chronically late. Don’t worry about what others think. You’re doing your best in so many ways day in and day out.
If you haven’t heard it lately, YOU’RE FREAKING AMAZING!