If you are a mother, you are connected to your children in an extraordinary way — feeling their pain, shedding tears together, and celebrating in their triumphs, no matter how large or small. You persevere, even when exhausted. You smile, even when sad. You give and give, even when depleted. You encourage, even when less than hopeful. You are compassionate, even when stressed. You always have your child’s back, even when others may have turned their backs on you.
Yet, sometimes, it feels like too much. Mothers, especially those with a special needs child, put themselves last, and sometimes don’t tend to their own needs at all.
That is perfectly normal and to be expected. Mothers who have children with additional medical, education, developmental and psychological needs are more likely to hear disappointing news, have more interrupted sleep, experience frustrations with the social service and health care system, have friction in relationships and feel great sadness on a daily basis. This increases the amount of stress in your system which can go undetected until you begin to exhibit symptoms.
If you feel weak or depressed, have trouble sleeping or getting up in the morning, are unable to focus or feel hopeless, remember that you matter and that you need to address these symptoms as soon as possible. Get help from a professional, get support from friends and family, and connect with other moms who have similar stresses.
Often times moms do not get the rest they need because they feel it is wrong to get any care. While it is absolutely true that no one can do what you do for your child the way you do it and with the amount of love you put into it, it is also true that your child relies on you to know when it is time to take care of yourself. Properly taking care of yourself allows you to fill up your reservoir with energy, patience, and strength.
The next time you take a few moments for yourself, use them well. Take time to have fun, to be held, to connect to resources and not feel like you have to do this all alone; remember what kind of parent you want be. Take time to be inspired. Learn about other mothers who have done this, with situations sometimes harder than yours, and who have found ways to make it through.
Mothers are often guided by maternal wisdom shared through the ages and across the world, it is invaluable. Feel free to share your own newfound wisdom with other mothers. After all, the story you share with another mother may be just the information needed to inspire her.
Photo by Kelly Crabtree Photography