Sunday, 24 April 2016

God gives special children to special people? Really?

I'm sure we've all seen or heard something like this at some point, whether we agree with the sentiment or not.

Seeing this phrase as a meme on Facebook has brought me to tears and at other times given me the rage.

Being the parent of children with ASD is a mixed bag. At least it is for me.
I always have doubts about my parenting and read others' glowing successful accounts of parenting their children with a mix of awe (how do they come across so calm and at peace with their lives?) and doubt (no way is anyone this perfect at parenting all the time).

I'm hopeful that the majority of parents experience parenting like I do. Either that or I am truly terrible at it!

Most of the time I manage to get through life in a vaguely going-in-the-right-direction winging it sort of way. I can look back on a day and think about the things I could have done better, and reflect on the things that went well. The day wasn't perfect, but we got through it ok.

Some days I am amazing (if I do say it myself). Everything I do works, I remain calm through meltdowns, I manage to lead my fighting family away from their differences and either bring them together peacefully or separate them successfully. On these days, I look back serenely congratulating myself, thinking "That's it! I've cracked it!".

Admittedly these days are rare. Having children who barely tolerate each other at the best of times, and whose conflicting needs mean that when one child's needs are met, the other's are neglected,  a good day is one where we've got through without too many meltdowns or punch-ups of some sort.

Then we get to the bad days. The days where no matter what is done, it's wrong and escalates every situation we encounter. The days where no amount of strategies (that are usually helpful) make any difference. The sort of days where at some point I will know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I cannot keep doing this, that I would rather leave and live in a tent (with wifi) than have to face this ever again.

Thankfully these days don't happen too often, and when they do happen, it's usually because we are all simultaneously having a bad day which individually can be dealt with effectively.

I recognise that for my oldest, when he is anxious about something, usually change, he will be obnoxious and controlling. 
For my 10 year old, when he's anxious, he tends to be violent and extremely control driven, to the point where he cannot cope with even little everyday demands (hence his PDA diagnosis).
For my youngest, when things aren't right in his world, he will whinge and cry incessantly. 
And me, those days where any noise is too much, any contact is the most irritating thing in the world, and I feel a strong need to be completely alone and silent. 

Usually, it will be a bad day for one or two of us, we seem to take it in turns. We can cope with one or two bad days in the family. 

When these things happen together though, we will have a Very Bad Day™.

These are the days when "God gives special children to special parents" upsets me.

I am not special. 

Through genetics, I am who I am, I have the children I have, and I love them dearly. I wouldn't change them for the world. 

But some days I fail, some days my actions inadvertently make things worse. Some days (dare I admit this?) it's all too hard, and I struggle to see how it's worth it. I can't see the little improvements that I usually can, all I can see is the hard slog ahead and can't help but think I am the wrong person to be doing this. 
And on days like this, reading "God gives special children to special parents" is the last thing I need, because if that's the case, in this family, God got it wrong. These are the days I seriously doubt my ability to raise my family to be be caring, thoughtful adults.

Luckily, like I said, these days are rare. We can wake up the next morning and life feels more settled, we can cope. We can then see that there are plenty of positives, progress is made, life is good. 

I still don't think we are special though. 

I believe that we have the family we have, and we cope with things because this is our normal, this is what life is like on a daily basis, having to watch out for subtle signs, dealing with behaviour that some parents will never encounter in a lifetime of parenting.

You can't possibly live life in a constant state of shock at the violence we experience at the hands of our ten year old, all we can do is learn strategies that help him to feel more comfortable, which hopefully lessens the violence. We manage because we have to, not because we are some sort of superior being, sent to earth to give birth to our children and prove how special we are. 
We do what any other decent parent of any child does, we adapt to give our children the best lives they can possibly have. 

I'm sure having bad days is a normal part of parenting (at least, I hope so!), and perhaps it's important to have these epic shitty days so that we can look back on them gratefully that most days are ok. 


  1. Thank you. You speak for me in everything you have said here.

  2. Reading this, it was like you were writing about me, thank you so much.

    (Have shared on my blog's Facebook page)