Waiter: How would you like your coffee, Ma’am?
Me: With kids tucked in their beds.
And the next scene, waiter scratching his head, “What does that mean?” 🤔.
Ok, that was just an exaggeration, nothing of that sort has happened so far. But trust me parenting is never an easy job. And unlike any other job it doesn’t come with a manual. So the foot is always on the pressure pedal. From healthy eating habits to good etiquette; from studies to extracurricular activities; from explaining them about their bodies to respecting their privacies – we have much more to look after and we can’t take up fancied portfolios as per our ease. I repeat parenting isn’t easy!
And the pressure of parenting a child with special needs is altogether a different ball game. Ask me!
In the year 2014 when it was finally established that my son is Autistic, I went blank. I sensed it, yet wished it not to be. Since then to this day it’s always been a run – from pole to post. With such a diagnosis tag, an entire army of questions spurt up in front you. Though I don’t belong to that school of parents who decide a career for their offspring even before naming them but I must confess that at this point of time I worry about his future. ” What would happen to him after us?”, “Who would take care of him?”, “What would be his future like?”, ” Will he ever be able to take up some formal education?” And the questions continue to infinity. The fear and pressure, looking at the world around is immense.
Soon after, the school was informed about the diagnosis and they took no time to ask us to take him out of the school as they were not equipped with the expertise to work with an Autistic child. I don’t blame them for that, trust me. It was the first jolt as he had no place to go by then and was still on the waiting list of the day care section of the hospital. But my prayers were soon answered and things kept rolling since then as far as his schooling was concerned as he later got a place in special school and he is continuing.
So where’s the pressure? Pressure churns when he is unable to express himself about the intangible things like pain for example, for he is still non-verbal (though now he has started uttering single words about the things he likes, for example: pasta, park, school bus 😁 etc.). And it’s equally difficult for him to comprehend “NO“. If he wants something badly he just wants it and won’t take a ‘No’ for an answer. I can’t explain the consequences to him as I could do to my daughter. He simply shuts himself down, though unintentionally. And that causes major meltdowns – could be a result of many factors, sometimes without any apparent reason. And when meltdowns strike, he goes all violent, shouts, cries, taps hands and legs on the floor vehemently, simply lies down on ground and that ground can be of a bus stop, pavement, supermarket, literally anywhere. And with people oblivious to your situation watching you with a judgmental overview, shivers are sent down the spine and the voice chokes while hands go numb and cold. While handling and calming him (which sometimes take really long and sometimes I am clueless about what to do) along with keeping an eye on the second child is enough pressure to take, explaining the onlookers “Why and What” is equally painful. I simply hate telling people about the issue, about why he is behaving absurdly. Few People tend to understand, few come forward to lend a helping hand but few make faces (really few so far, shall I care about them🤔?). Whatsoever maybe the reaction I always have a bated breath and watch of an eagle when out with him. Going to stay this way, at least for a while😟.
Also searching and booking a place for him in the activities during long vacations (Belgian calendar has too many for kids 😁) is nothing less than pressure cooker situation for me. With really limited number of places available, his constant need for individual attention makes it real tough for me to have one place ready for him. I usually start working three to four months in advance for he enjoys his activities, he enjoys discovering and I want him to. There are instances when I was rejected straightaway. Bearing it all and to be on a look out constantly is my job now. By the way, his autumn break is busy!😁
Who helps me out? Family and friends – too obvious, isn’t it? But I have an elongated list here:
- Surprised you will be to learn that I owe Facebook too a thanks. When you read a lot of stories from all around the world from people sailing in the same boat on one page it definitely refills the depleting levels of confidence. It reminds me, “You are not alone and we are together, let’s make it a better place“. So many motivational and inspiring stories kicks in the positivism I need.
- Organisations working for and with my son including his school. Their innovative ideas, patience and moral support have gone a long way in making things a bit better and every bit matters. They told me that “You Are Strong” and that helps, period!
- A lady, my friend whom I am unable to meet often but we do have long conversations often (that’s technology for you 😁) and she is full of wisdom. Always gives a positive perspective of looking at things and instills courage in me. I can’t name her here since no permission taken but I would drop a hint to her – an experienced trainer of English language/ business communications. Thank you dear.
- And last but not the least – my kids themselves. My daughter – just three of age but acts like my shadow to her brother, gives me a ray of hope. And when my son laughs with me, plays with me, embraces me, it seems he is giving me a message “mamma, you, me and God will set things straight“. By the way I forgot to tell you that he seems to be more inclined towards the supreme power as at home he spends a great amount of time singing devotional songs 😁😁.
Did I tell you that sometimes my son gets up at 3 or 4AM in the morning and demands a breakfast – that’s also a pressure – 😂😂😂.
And for all those who have free advise on what shall I do to raise my kids prim and proper I request, “Come walk in my shoes for once”.