"shh.... They're looking at us.."
Sorry I haven't written in a while friends, as you know things can get a little bit chaotic and a special needs home :-)
I have a list of things I wanted to write about, but this one kind of hit home to me just over the last few weeks. That dreaded feeling of.. "they're looking at us" "they're judging us" "they're wondering why we're different" "they think I'm a bad mom"
If you're special needs parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about. These thoughts have gone through your head. You've questioned yourself. You've possibly even questioned taking your special needs child out in public for fear of judgement.
Let me give you a real world example of something that happened to me just last week. I took all three children to get a haircut. You're a special needs parent, your child might have sensory issues, you know that haircuts, the hair dryers, the clippers etc can cause sensory overload. So here's my story...
Again, I took all three children in to get their haircut. Harlow, the 3-year-old refuses to wear shoes. No matter what I try to keep on her feet, she won't wear shoes. So I use positive reinforcement to get shoes on her so she can walk into a business, and then I allow her to take her shoes off. Why? They bother her. They make her unhappy. They cause her severe sensory issues. She also has severe sensory issues with having her hair brushed so quite a often it looks like she has a rat's nest. (It gets brush friends, I promise I don't allow her to walk around all the time with a rat's nest lol) She is 3 years old. This isn't a battle that I am fighting right now. Harlow is a sensory seeker, so she will make loud screaming noises just to stay regulated. There is a small piece of playground equipment on the inside of the haircut store. She's a climber and a seeker, so she climbed up and down the outside of the tube slide.
Jackson had a lot of anxiety about the other children in the salon so he decided that he wanted to stim by randomly screaming nonsensensical words.
Maddox grabbed a balloon that hadn't been blown up so that he could chew on it, that's how he stays regulated is to chew on things. So here I walk into the haircut place with a 3-year-old with no shoes on, a rat's nest of hair, a 9-year-old that is screaming non-sensical words, and the 7-year-old that is chewing on a balloon and rocking back and forth.
Did people stare? Oh you bet. Did people look at me like I was being a bad parent? 100%. And you know what I did? I smiled. Although it hurt on the inside I just smiled at them. They have no idea what's going on, they don't know my kids, they don't know their needs, they don't understand their sensory dysregulation, they don't understand their anxiety with being overwhelmed with strangers around them, etc. After that haircut issue and the 30 minute meltdown my 3-year-old had after her balloon poppped. I walked out to defeated, you know that feeling. Right? Like... Whhhhyyyy??!!!
But then I kind of came back to what I'm talking about right now. Who cares? Who cares what they think?
WHO CARES? You know you're a good mom. You KNOW you're doing the best you can with the cards you've been dealt. You know days are challenging and sometimes It feels like the entire weight of the world is on your shoulders.
But here's the deal. Who cares what other people think? That's what I want you to really think about. Why do you care about what Shelly thinks about you? You don't know Shelly, and Shelly doesn't know you. Shelly doesn't know your kids, Shelly doesn't know what your kids need to do the self regulate.
To make matters worse, we are constantly thrown social media images of the perfect family. But what is that perfect family? A family of four, with neurotypical children, a dog, with no financial strain in the relationship, all of those things right? I will promise you that there is no such family that exists. Regardless of what is portrayed on social media, there's no template for what a perfect family is. But you know what I'll tell you, and what I genuinely mean with all my heart?
You have a perfect family. You have a perfect child.
This abstract idea of the perfect family doesn't exist.
Maybe you're not a perfect mom, neither am I, it's impossible to do everything right, make all the correct choices, and just quite honestly try to make it through the day. You know what I'm talking about right? But that child of yours was made JUST for you.
So the next time you feel like someone is looking at you, judging you, judging your child, smile at them. Just smile.