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Parenting Without A Net

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I’ve been mulling this over since yesterday, and I still don’t have a coherent plan of what I want to say or how I want to write it.  So I’m just going to write what comes to mind and hope that it makes sense.

Besides, sometimes things just don’t make sense no matter how hard you try.

Let me start with an “I” statement:  I am afraid.

Most of the fear is about my son and whether he will be able to make his way in the world (without me), how he will be treated by others, and whether I will be able to protect him.

That fear ^ there, it takes up most of my time.

But then I got a message from a friend the other day.  I’d just arrived home from work, and I wasn’t prepared for what I read.  We always say that, don’t we?  As though there is ever a moment when we are prepared for something uncomfortable to arrive, like we’ve made refreshments and tidied up the house in anticipation of the arrival of this visitor.

The message said:

I can’t fucking do this anymore, Flan.

I hate being a special needs mom, hell, I hate being a mom.

I throw the same goddamned fit every couple of weeks, but nothing changes.

My house is still always fucking trashed, Katey* is cute, but she’s a two-year-old terror that can’t communicate and doesn’t understand punishment of any kind.

Sam* rages every fucking day.

I’m sick of the noise.

I’m sick of the fight.  Every damn day is a fight.

I’m not thinking anything crazy because, as special needs moms, we don’t even have the suicide option.

I just feel so fucking trapped it’s killing me from the inside.

I don’t know what to do.

I’m sorry I’m laying I’m laying this all out on you.  No one in my real life knows me like you guys do.

If I called my friends or family (in another state), they wouldn’t understand.

I’m sorry, I just had to get this all out.

I screamed and yelled at my kids and walked out.  I’m sitting in front of the liquor store knowing full well it’s not going to help anything.

.

I only had about a minute to collect my thoughts before I called, and I was afraid;  afraid I didn’t have the right words to fix this.

My friend is in the middle of waiting a few months for her respite to be approved.  This is an unfortunate place to be, because there is no safety net.  It’s just you and, if you’re lucky to have one, your spouse, who has to keep all the balls in the air.  And there are some out there who just don’t get any services.

All I could tell my friend was that I’ve been there.  MOST of us have been there, especially when you have children with extra needs.  And if you happen to have a child who is medically fragile, keeping you housebound most of the time, then it can drain your emotional reserves even faster.

I was afraid for her because I know how challenging it is with just one child, let alone having three or four.  I was afraid because I wasn’t certain that circumstances would change anytime soon.

I was afraid because I knew that feeling of being at the end of your rope, with nothing left of yourself to give to anyone, and wondering if you would ever have enough to give.

I was afraid because I know her.  I know for a fact that she is stronger than me.  She is feisty and brave, she charges dragons with words as her sword and shield, and she never tires of talking and working and writing and advocating.  If she can be pushed to that dark place, what hope is there for me?

There is no safety net for us.

Typical parents have a really hard job.  We have that same job, plus a little bit extra.  And that little bit extra is what other people can’t or won’t deal with.  It’s too much.  Too much to ask of someone.

And all I could do was offer that I’ve been there, and it doesn’t last forever.  It will come back, but it doesn’t stay permanently.

And jokes.  Because when shit isn’t funny, I find jokes.  I can’t help you from a thousand miles away, but if you laugh then I’m pretty sure you’re not near the ledge.

But I worry.  It makes me wonder how many people there are out there, without a safety net; without someone they can call or message who will joke about setting the laundry pile on fire.

safetynet

*names have been changed in the interest of privacy

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