The hardest part for me about parenting a child with special needs is the insecurity.
Insecurity. . .
- with professionals who seem to know so much more than I feel like I do
- with friends and family who secretly and not-so-secretly disagree on the reasons my adopted kids act the way they do.
- when I pick up the monthly slew of psychiatric meds at our pharmacy and fear what the 19 year old clerk thinks of me as a mom.
Yesterday, having fed, packed homework, and solved the world’s problems for my three younger girls, the 11 year old said, “I threw up this morning, mom.”
Considering she has a history of vomiting about all things emotional (and yes, we’ve been through every medical and allergy clinic to rule out medical problems), I responded, “Worried about something today, eh?” and drag/walked her to school with her sisters.
When I got home, I told my husband it would be another “Ms. Wallin, this is the school nurse. Your daughter is sick and needs you to pick her up” morning, since this nurse is new and hasn’t discovered my daughter pukes at will. This new nurse works from the handbook, which says that all vomit is a ticket home.
One hour later, my husband called me while I was en route to a meeting. “You win!” He said. “The school needs us (read: you) to pick her up.”
I called the nurse, asked whether my kiddo had a fever (no), any other symptoms (no), donned my “Yes, I am a concerned mom” voice and said I’d be there asap.
Once at school, the clerk and nurse greeted me with furrowed brows. I smiled apologetically, collected my child and pointed her in the direction of the car. Then I walked to her class to grab her left-behind backpack. And to rant with her teacher. Because her bright, delightfully snarky resource teacher *gets* the value of not giving attention to behaviors of a child with attachment disorder.
This ally walked me to the office and advocated for the way I handled things that day. Told the nurse my girl’s behavior has a long history, and did they remember she’s tossed her cookies multiple times this school year already?
I went home feeling strong, supported, more confident as a mom.
I’d done it. I actually stood up for what I knew to be true and best for my daughter. I relied on an ally and was gracious but firm with professionals who didn’t understand. I pushed back insecurity that questioned, “Am I wrong? Am I a bad parent?”
Then at 2:30 a.m. my 8 year old woke me, puking. At 4:30 a.m., once laundry was washing and vomit cleaned from the carpet, my youngest staggered in. Also puking.
Two hours later, after walls, pillows, bedding and floors were clean, the sun was rising over kids settled with buckets on makeshift towel beds on my floor. Sleep pulled on me. Just before I drifted off, insecurity pounced, accusing: “See? You were wrong. You don’t know what you’re doing with your vommit-at-will child. The school was right. What a horrible mom not to go right away when she was sick!”
Maybe it was the vomit fumes in the air. Or the sleep deprivation. Whatever it was, my own thoughts surprised me: “I’m still glad I stood up for what I know about my child in those nine-times-out-of-ten moments.”
“Even though I was wrong this time, somehow I’m still a good mom.”
“One mistake doesn’t erase what I know, deep down, is best for my child.”
“Being wrong didn’t drown me. Or ruin my child.”
And it doesn’t drown or ruin you or yours, either. Because even if we’re sometimes wrong, we’re still alright as parents.
Let’s stick with that hard-won, nine-times-out-of-ten wisdom, parents. Our kids need that strength in us, even when they and the rest of the world sometimes seem to fight it.