By Tanya Savva
I belong to a club of humans who, through their desire to become a parent, have had to endure challenges well beyond what we ever signed up for. No doubt most of us naively stepped into this role of ‘parent’ with the belief that it was going to be a seamless transition into that role and we’d live a seemingly normal life raising socially integrative people that are well mannered, sporty, smart and capable of becoming high functioning adults that will one day raise their own kids, just like us. We never imagined that the label of parent would be slammed with a prefix that would never go away, and would simultaneously hand us the biggest emotional, physical and psychological demands we would ever face.
(Special needs) parent.
Sometimes we wonder if they erased the fine print before we signed the dotted line. That decision to grow and nurture a human came with so much more than we bargained for.
We never imagined we’d be sitting in a doctor’s office receiving that devastating news.
We never imagined we’d be googling words we’d never heard of.
We never imagined we’d be wiping our 11-year old’s backside.
We never imagined we’d be cleaning dribble from our 16-year old’s mouth.
We never imagined we’d become experts in wheelchair prescription.
We never imagined we’d be fighting for funding for incontinence pads.
We never imagined we’d feel embarrassed because of our children and their complex needs.
We never imagined we’d be squeezing pureed foods down a tube direct into their tiny stomach.
We never imagined we’d be begging them to wake up after that surgery.
We never imagined we’d wished they’d stop talking to every single stranger they met.
We never imagined we’d be looking at special-needs schools.
We never imagined we’d resent them for all the things they took away from us.
We never imagined we’d be fighting for inclusion and equality.
We never imagined we’d judge them for their unusual and socially inappropriate quirks.
We never imagined we’d hope for a day when they said ‘I love you’.
Our children demand so much of us. They push us to the precipice and then a little further beyond the confines of our comfort zone. It feels unfair, sometimes. Maybe even a lot of the time. And it’s OK to feel undone.
It’s OK to feel embarrassed and ashamed.
It’s OK to feel resentful.
It’s OK to feel guilty that you feel that way about your child.
It’s OK to feel like it’s some horrible shit show that’s gone on too long.
It’s OK to hate that you’re responsible for your teenager’s hygiene.
It’s OK to despise the system that failed your child too many times.
It’s OK that you feel hard done by.
It’s OK that you judged your child for the behaviour they couldn’t control when the world didn’t meet their needs and they melted down in the middle of Kmart.
It’s easy to turn that shame, judgement, resentment and guilt on to yourself for all the times it was too much and you were too tired, too angry, too confused and too unbothered to do one more thing.
We never imagined it would be like this. And so, everything you feel is OK.
It’s important to acknowledge and welcome all of things that you think and feel. In doing so, you honour the journey for all that it is – a beautiful, chaotic mess. And when you embrace and embody all the things you never imagined, and all the things you have to do but wished you didn’t, and all the things you hope were different, but can’t be, you open up space to embody your Truth, integrate your reality, and create a little grace that lets the magic seep in.
Because in embodiment and holding your Truth, there is magic in that messy life of yours.
It’s in the silence of late nights when it’s just you and your child sitting in bed under the light of the moon.
It’s in the sacredness of pureeing food alone in the kitchen to nourish your child.
It’s in the support that surrounds you to help your child thrive.
It’s in the stillness of moments before your next therapy session.
It’s in their ability to communicate with strangers, when you were told they’d never speak.
It’s in their unbridled joy, acceptance and kindness that’s gifted to everyone they meet.
It’s in the kisses your teenager blows to you to say, ‘I love you’.
It’s in the lessons they gift you, silent and obvious, that demand you step into a higher vibration. A better version of You.
It’s in the little achievements that mean everything to you.
It’s in the knowing that they chose you to be their parent, because they knew you’d rise to the challenge.
It’s in the choice to let them shine in this messed up world, embarrassing quirks and all, because you realise the world needs their uniqueness.
It’s in the awareness that we’ve learnt unconditional love, acceptance and patience in the face of the hardest challenge we’ve ever faced.
And it’s right there, in the tears that you allow yourself to shed as you feel all the things you never thought you’d feel, when dealt with a hand in a game you didn’t choose to play in.
Gift yourself the space to be in your Truth. From that place of awareness, there is so much magic in this beautiful chaotic mess.
Visit tanyasavva.com to learn more about Tanya, her journey and how she can support you.