There are times when I feel like a total failure. I’ve talked about before and I’m sure I’ll be talking about it again in the future. I’ve been fighting this overwhelming feeling of being a failure recently. I know that I do the best I can but sometimes it’s just not enough. I feel like I’m drowning in that feeling right now.
I’ve been interviewed many times over the years and I’m always asked about what I find most difficult about being a special needs parent. My answer is always the same and it goes like this.
That sounds super depressing and frankly, it kinda is, but it’s really just a numbers game. Think of it like paying the bills. If my bills are $2000/month and my income at best is $1500/month, the demand exceeds the available resources. If what my kids need from me is more than I have to give, it feels like I’m not enough. Make sense? Intuitively, I know it’s not that black and white, but it still feels that way inside.
I’ve talked to many parents about this over the years and far too many have been able to relate. It’s something many of us seem to have in common. Yes, I know we’re all human and have very human limits. I’m not suggesting that this is rational because I don’t think it is. It’s just how many of us parents, especially Dads, seem to feel.
Sometimes when I take a step back and look at my life, I feel like I’m failing because I hold myself to an impossible standard. When I fail to meet that standard, I feel like I’m letting everyone around me down, namely my kids.
Lately, I’ve been feeling sad and life has been difficult for a number of reasons. My head is a mess. Trying to focus on what I need to get done is proving to be very challenging. Sometimes I hate being an emotional person because it makes things so much harder. I wish I could compartmentalize that part of me off and not feel things for a little while. Being able to just think logically and make decisions without the influence of emotion seems like an amazing thing.
Here’s just some of what’s on my mind as I’m writing this.
I’m having very minor surgery the day after my birthday and I will most likely be going alone. The procedure is only scheduled for 30 minutes and it’s done under local, so I should be able to drive myself home without too much of a problem. I’m still worried about how this is going to play out. I have two weeks of pretty heavy restriction afterwards, and I never want to be a burden, so I’m not good at asking for help.
The school year begins this week and I have very real concerns about how I’m going to approach it. I had a brief conversation with Lizze yesterday and I feel like we’re pretty much on the same page. It’s my job to protect my kids and sometimes that means making very unpleasant decisions. They desperately need the in person contact but justifying that under these conditions is not easy. If I make to choice to not allow my kids back into the classroom, it’s not going to go over well. If I decide to let them go and something happens, I couldn’t live with myself.
All of these things are running laps and living rent free inside my head. It’s completely overwhelming at times and I wish I could just slow everything down, so I could catch my breath.
When I’m trying to manage all of these things on my own, it’s a reminder of just how alone I really am, or at least feel. I know at some of you can relate to this in one form or another. I also know I’m strong, and I can do this. It’s just that sometimes I wish I didn’t always have to be strong. I wish I could just count on someone to have my back or take over for me while I shutdown for a little bit. Being strong is exhausting and I’m so tired of having to be on all the time.
Anyway, I’m just letting you folks in little bit and sharing some of what I’m struggling to manage right now. Parenting isn’t an easy job and doing it alone introduces so many unique challenges. I know this is a more personal post but I think it’s helpful to share these things because so many people go through this every day and feel very much alone. If I can help someone to feel a little better, it’s worth it.
So, if you read this and find yourself feeling as though you can relate, first of all, you’re a badass, and second of all, maybe neither one of us are as alone as we thought. At least there’s some comfort there.
I just turned 71 in July. I have an adult son with autism. Everything you said here is the truth. I’ve dealt with every emotion and feeling you wrote for the past 37 years. I know this doesn’t help, but you are definitely not alone out here Rob. The one difference and it’s a serious decision I didn’t have when my son was attending school, and it’s a big one, is that at this time you also have to deal with the pandemic and what’s right and safe for your sons safety.
I don’t know if this helps. But the fact that your kids are vaccinated means it is most likely they will NOT suffer much even if they get covid. It’s a risk, but so much in life is a risk. Plus, you can keep an eye on the situation and make new decisions.