Two local moms, Martha and Ruth, have created a video called Sh*t Moms of Kids with ‘Issues’ Say, which addresses the life of a parent with a child with special needs.
Between the two, they have five children. “All of them are great kids, in their 20s (or almost), and in addition to all of their wonderful talents, all of them have had their own challenges (let’s just say that we have been through teenagerhood five times!),” shares Ruth.
Martha adds, “Years ago, I was the mother of a pre-schooler who could not separate, and my only choice was to finally leave him in tears. It was awful for both of us. The teacher gave me my marching orders and I begrudgingly left. As I was leaving, another mother who didn’t know that the crying 3-year-old was mine said to me, ‘I would NEVER leave my child like that!’ I was beside myself, but then another mother whispered in my ear that her son cried every day. And that’s how I met Ruth.”
The two have been friends every since and decided to make this video “for the Martha and Ruth’s who were sitting at the kitchen table, crying—many times, over many years.”
Ruth added, “The issues we’re addressing in the video are the somewhat more “invisible” issues that are often so easily blamed on laziness, bad parenting, etc…which is just about the last thing you need when you are trying to help your child, get through the day, be a good parent to your other kids, etc. Remember when autism was blamed on “refrigerator mothers?” Can you imagine how that felt for those mothers? They needed support and encouragement, not judgment.”
They went on to explain:
If only we had known how great our kids were going to turn out, and that it would be OK. If only more people had just told us we were doing a good job. If only more people had seen our kids for how fantastic they were, not for the challenges they posed. Some people did … but the criticisms and judgments were so much more frequent, and they are what often stuck … probably because we felt so inadequate ourselves.
We want to tell moms, dads, caregivers, etc. in “the club” that they are doing a GREAT job. And if they can just keep some perspective and a sense of humor – and surround themselves with people who support them and celebrate their child and, when things are hard, cry with them instead of judging them – it will be so much better. We feel that in helping the adults, we are also helping the kids. It really is a cycle.
A woman Ruth knows who works with traumatized children says, “when you rescue the child, you save the adult.” She means, you save the adult that that child becomes. We also think it means you save that child’s parent. At the same time, if you help the parents cope, get support, and have a sense of humor and perspective, and have the strength to advocate for their child in a positive way, you are also making it better for the child … who in turn, will (hopefully) be a happier adult. It all works together. (You are also making it better for the siblings … but again, that’s a future blog post.)
- It’s not funny when your kid is not invited on playdates or to parties.
- It’s not funny when homework is a debilitating battle for both you and your child, every single night.
- It’s not funny when no one else recognizes all the wonderful things about your child.
- It’s not funny when you are terrified for your child’s emotional welfare and what the consequences of that may be (screw the academics – is he going to make it out of K-12 school alive and with his ego intact?)
And what’s also not funny is the stupid things people say to you as you are trying to deal with all this, and help your child through. And, through it all, you know that that as hard and anxiety-producing this all is for you, it is a hundred times worse for your child.
So we we are here for our former selves, and for anyone else feeling alone, judged, and overwhelmed with whatever “issues” they are dealing with their kids. We want to provide support, encouragement, and a long-term perspective…all with a sense of humor (in our own un-PC way!).
Martha and Ruth also blog at Walk a Mile in My Issues.