One of the things that I can personally struggle with in regards to Autism parenting and parenting in general for that matter, is self-doubt. If there is ever going to be anything that makes an adult question themselves, it’s parenting.
When it comes to Autism parenting, that sense of self-doubt significantly increases and for good reason.
Autism Parenting is tough and there’s no two ways about it.
Speaking for myself but hoping you can relate. I’m harder on myself than anyone else in the world ever could be.
It’s so easy to tear myself down over what I feel are weaknesses or inadequacies on my part. I find that more often than not, I catch myself comparing my parenting abilities to that of the typical parents I’m surrounded by all the time.
They seem to have it all together and often times don’t struggle in the more extreme ways that I do.
This can be quite demoralizing because I look at how poorly I’m providing for my family (in my opinion anyway) or that my kids can’t play outside because of how bad of a neighborhood we live in.
I know how tough it is to keep groceries in our house or how overwhelming it is to keep said house reasonably maintained. I know how guilty I can feel when my kids are driving me crazy because I should have more patience with them.
Worst of all, I have to watch my kids struggle in ways that I can’t always have an impact on, especially when it comes to Gavin. This poor kid has already lived through more than most people will during the course of their entire lives. It’s not fair and I can’t do a goddamn thing about it.
I could go on but I think you get the point.
When I see, feel or experience any of these things, I feel like a failure. I feel like I’ve failed and I’m continuing to fail my family. It certainly doesn’t help when people make judgmental comments without first walking in my shoes.
Here’s the thing and this is what I’m hoping you take away from this.
Whenever I compare my situation to someone else’s, I’m always going to lose. As human beings, we tend to compare our weaknesses to everyone else’s strengths and that just never works.
It’s not easy to see this and I constantly have to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can in what is truthfully, a very, very difficult situation.
This can be especially hard when I browse Facebook and see how different (what I tend to perceive as better) the lives are of those who maybe aren’t dealing with some of the same things I am. I think many of us fall into this trap. Facebook isn’t always a good way to judge what other people’s lives are really like.
Here’s what I have to remember.
Despite how poorly I feel I’m doing in regards to raising and providing for my family, the reality is that I’m doing a damn good job. When I step back and look at all the unique challenges I face on a daily basis, I begin to see that maybe, just maybe I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. Maybe, just maybe I’m doing a better job than I think.
Truthfully, how many people could raise three kids with Autism, ADHD and a host of other medical/emotional health issues?
How many people could chronically go without sleep, deal with explosive meltdowns, IEP’s, sensory issues, manage insane amounts of medically necessary medications, successfully prepare food for kids who are beyond picky due to sensory issues, make sure everyone gets to countless therapy/doctors appointments, endure what feels like constant screaming, incessant talking, repetitive questions and do so as well as I can?
Here’s a hint… It’s not many.
Sure, it’s far from perfect. There are a great many things that get placed on the back burner, like bills, housework or relationships with friends and family.
That being said, look at all I manage to do in an otherwise impossible situation.
My family has a roof over our heads, food in the fridge and kids that are loved unconditionally. I may not be able to always ease the burdens my kids have to carry through life but I stand right there with them and support them any way possible.
In spite of the challenging nature or our existence, there isn’t a moment that goes by where my kids don’t feel loved, supported and accepted for who they are.
At the end of the day, these things wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t at least a decent parent. The truth is, I’m a flawed person. I have many weaknesses and I make mistakes. My family isn’t close to being financially stable or living in safe neighborhood but we make the best out of everything.
When I step back and see the much larger picture, I realize that I’m actually doing some pretty remarkable things.
I’m probably always going to experience feelings of guilt, failure or inadequacy but that’s life.
The whole point here is that as parents, we are harder on ourselves than anyone else. We will always feel like our families deserve better than what we can make happen because we love them so deeply. That’s actually pretty normal.
Remember that there are few things in life more difficult than being an Autism parent. The fact that we’re all still here is testament to how well we are actually doing.
Cut yourself some slack and pat yourself on the back because you deserve it. ☺