There are a million and one things that could easily be considered one of the toughest parts about Autism Parenting. Occasionally, one of these toughest parts makes its way to the front of the line and weighs heavy.
This is the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night because it’s too abstract to really process and completely intangible.
I thought I would share what I’m currently struggling with because I want something positive to come from my journey. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can’t. My hope is that if you can, you realize that you aren’t alone.
As a parent to three boys with Autism, I’m my own toughest critic.
I hear people’s thoughts and/or opinions of my abilities as a parent all the time. Some people are very supportive, but others are judgemental. I’ve heard all kinds of horrible things over the years, and that’s okay because everyone is entitled to their opinion.
The thing is though, I haven’t heard anything from anyone, that I haven’t already said to myself a million times. There isn’t a person on this planet who’s harder on me than I am.
I’m a father to three boys with unique and demanding special needs. On my absolute best day, I’m nowhere near enough to meet even most of their needs. Each one of my kids is a full-time job by themselves. It happens to be a job I wouldn’t give up for anything in the world, but it’s not easy.
I tend to be really hard on myself because I can’t do better than I’m doing or be more than I am.
When you love your kids, you want the very best for them. I think we can all relate to that, but when things like Autism and fragile health enter into the mix, giving your kids the best, becomes incredibly difficult.
When I have weeks like this last one, and I’m feeling beaten down, I become very critical of myself.
I had to make difficult choices, where no matter what I did, there was a downside.
When I decided to repair the A/C instead pay other bills, I did so because the kids were not coping well with the heat. They weren’t sleeping at night, and Elliott had heat rash all over him. All the sensory issues made things much more intense for them.
Sleep was limited and meltdowns were plenty.
I felt that the boys needed immediate relief, and so did we. It seems pretty straightforward, but it’s actually anything but.
The repairs were not covered by our budget, and that meant taking it from somewhere else. That somewhere else was the internet bill and more extensive grocery shopping.
No matter what I would have chosen to do, there was going to be major fallout, but I chose to put health and wellness first. It was too hot and the kid’s ability to cope is limited.
Everyone’s much more comfortable now, and they are sleeping at night once again. Emmett is still waking up, but that could be unrelated.
While the environment is better, losing the internet is proving to be just as disruptive, only in a different way.
The whole point I’m trying to make is, I know I made the best decision I could, in the circumstances I was in. I know that, but as a father and provider, I shouldn’t have been in this situation, to begin with.
We aren’t a cash rich family, but we are doing better and better. As time goes on, we our stability continues to improve. We still aren’t able to absorb much yet, and that’s whats killed us this time.
It’s hard for me to see the positive because I’m drawn to all the things that I couldn’t make better. I think that this is something many of us face along our journey. I’m no exception. In fact, I’m probably the poster child for being too hard on oneself.
It’s very easy for me to see my failures, or what I feel are failures anyway. What’s difficult is recognizing the things I’m doing well. I want the best for my family, and I feel like they deserve better than I can give them.
I do the best I can, and the cards aren’t in my favor. Still, I beat myself up for not doing better.
In these moments where I’m beating myself up, it’s hard to sleep or do anything because it’s pervasive thinking and I can’t break the cycle.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? The A/C, groceries, and internet are just what we happen to be dealing with at the moment. Your situation may be very different, but your feelings the same.
I’ll work through this, and frankly, writing about it helps. I’m hoping that someone out there reads this and realizes that they aren’t alone.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below.