“Good morning, sweetheart,” I say to the lump under the comforter.
“Get away from me!” It yells back.
“Time to go to school.”
“I don’t care.”
“I’ll see you downstairs. The ride to school leaves in 20 minutes.”
“I’m not going.”
“I’ll go get the phone so you can call the principal and tell him that.”
No answer. But the lump seems to be moving now.
So I head downstairs. Make breakfast, pour her meds, make my coffee. This is my morning every day. It may sound like my daughter is a teen, by the way she’s reacting, but really she’s 9. She’s 9 with bipolar, a history of trauma in foster care, and a little sister with similar issues, who was in our home and is now in a residential facility because she couldn’t hack life in a family. For now.
Honestly, I’m not sure this one can either. But then again, I don’t feel like I can hack life in my family most days, so I go easy on her.
If you call “talking to her like a parenting robot and wishing she’d just go to school already because shes ripping into me with her words” going easy on her. To me, going easy would be leaving her in her bed and not requiring her to try to live life in the normal world as a child whose mind constantly lies to her.
Last weekend we spent two full days at a family wedding. To be clear, that means the following:
- We were present at the events.
- I smiled a lot, laughed a lot, and interacted with many of the people I hoped to see.
- My husband and I did a good job of running interference with our still-at-home special needs daughter.
- My youngest daughter made me smile when I wanted to cry.
- Nobody knows I saw the wedding from underwater. From behind a wall. Like it was 30 miles away because most of my energy was directed at keeping my on-edge 9 year old from losing it.
- I knew that by last night I’d be in tears and unrecognizable as a human. That, really, you could have mistaken my demeanor for that of my daughter’s.
- I’m glad my husband knows the routine or he’d have left me long ago.
It’s these kinds of moments – these high social-expectation events – that are the reason I speak and coach and am writing my book for special needs families.
It’s these heart-breaking, shards-of-glass-in-my-heart moments that propel me to speak life into the hearts of others who live this too. After all, what would any of us gain if we just gave up?
And so, in style with the wedding toasts I tried to hear this weekend:
To you, moms and dads of kids who daily stretch you past everything you have – to you I lift my glass and cheer your strength, your resolve, your unending will to give your life for your child and your family. To you I toast, today. You are not alone. You make a difference. Your life will be remembered for the amazing gift it gave to your kids. The events you miss, the milestones they miss, the moments you grieve daily… they will someday pass and you will be okay. You really will.