As a mom of a child with Autism it is very easy to pour everything you have into your child. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that just as long as you are not neglecting yourself. My son is 8 years old and for the first time I’m putting myself first!
My son has always been my number 1 priority. Most of the time I thought about his needs more than my own. I used to spend my spare moments thinking of ways to help him improve every area in his life. Parents would commend me for the things I did that helped my son. My son’s teachers, friends, and therapists would make comments like, “Tre is so lucky to have a mom like you”, or say “you are doing such a great job with your son.” Although I appreciated the encouragement I always felt like I was missing something. I was missing time for “me.” What people did not know about me was I often felt very overwhelmed and anxious.
In average day would look something like this: “School”, “Therapy” and Homework”. When my son came back from therapy I’d help him with techniques he just learned during that session because I wanted to make sure he really “got it”. (I constantly quizzed my poor child) He’d have some free time, then more therapy techniques, extra homework I created, dinner, bath, story time, and bedtime. Every day I repeated the same thing. I was Exhausted! I was miserable because I did not have a “life” outside of my son and marriage. Weekends were no better. One of the “A-ha” moments I had was when my friend told me, “don’t you think Tre needs a break?” “Don’t you need a break?”
Although I was doing everything I knew to help my son, I didn’t realize that the best way to truly be there for him was by letting go of the control. I started realizing I could not do this alone, I needed help. I also learned that I needed to trust that God loved my son more than me, and that he would take care of his every need even when I’m not around.
I now make time for myself and feel NO GUILT about doing so. Although my son is still on a schedule, (Not as rigorous) I add some “me time” in there every week. I make time to go to the gym weekly, go on frequent dates with my husband, hang out with my friends, and go out of town by myself. I’m looking at my December calendar right now, and I am booked to capacity doing “me” activities! Concerts, off Broadway productions, parties, and social networking events will be my life for the rest of the month.
As a parent of a child with special needs one of the many lessons I’ve learned, and still learning is to ask for help from friends and family. You do not have to do this alone. There is an old saying: “It takes a village to raise a child”; it really does. I’ve also learned that to raise a happy healthy kid, his mama needs to be happy and healthy. I am much more nurturing and patient when I am taking care of my needs first.
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