A young couple has come into our life whose son is special needs. They are trying to cope with the initial news of his disabilities, the on-going therapies, and so much more. They mentioned to us that they have times of great frustration. They wondered if that ever happens to us.
Time for transparency!
Yes, even after almost 32 years, there are great times of exhaustion and frustration in parenting and caring for one with special needs. My mom, who was my dad’s primary caregiver as he battled with Alzheimer’s, had moments of frustration, too. Sadly, here is something that happened to me not all that long ago:
I had been listening all day….and was so tired of hearing Joey’s loud screaming and vocal noises as he played some of his PlayStation sports games (which makes enough repetitive noises of their own!) I thought I could just scream – wait a minute – I did! As I was cleaning up the dinner dishes, I totally imitated him and caught him by surprise, frightening him in the exact same way he had done to me all day long. Yes, I lowered myself to that behavior. Even my husband Joe was taken by surprise. I’d never done that before, so both the guys were surprised. The good thing is Joey stopped making those noises. The bad thing is that I acted out of total frustration.
It was almost time for Joey to go to bed, which was probably a good thing. Joe made sure he was the one to help him get ready for bed THAT night! I was thankful to not have to be with him. I did not want to hear him repeat the same things he always does at bed time after having listened to him repeat noises, sounds, and vocals all day. I was at the end of my day and rope!
Those times are not nearly as often and not nearly as challenging as what we went through in the early years, and perhaps nothing like you’re dealing with in your life right now. In those early stages there was so much to learn, experience, figure out, deal with, and it’s all dumped on the “plate” of life in a huge portion! The frustration we all experience is often the consequence of all that accumulates emotionally throughout the day and week…..
So, it is normal to get frustrated. It is normal to come to the end of your rope. The key issue is that we should never become abusive. When we get to a point of frustration:
· It’s good for our spouse or another person in our life, to “take over” like Joe did when he got Joey ready for bed.
· It’s good to learn to “ask” others to help out when we feel we’re reaching that boiling point.
· It’s important to remove yourself from the situation and “take a time out”.
· It’s helpful to talk about what the frustration is, as not everyone is frustrated over the same things, or gets to the same point of frustration in the same amount of time (some can take a lot more for a longer period of time…others cannot.)
· Be honest with our feelings and frustrations – to own them and learn to deal with them, as life is probably not going to change any time soon.
· It’s always good to remember that tomorrow is a new day. Get rest so you can face it!
We’ve learned the “dance” that works for us. And you must find the “dance” that works for you so your loved one remains well cared for!