by Cathy Jameson
I don’t know if it’s the recent time change, the approaching seasonal change or just crazy hormones. I seem to be in a funk more and more lately and can’t shake those nagging what-about-me feelings I have. Part of the pressure I feel is the mounting stress of preparing for a new baby in just a few weeks. Some of the stress comes from everyday living while rearing four young children, one of whom has special needs. Most of the stress is a self-induced pity party watching my child make some progress, regress a tad and then remain developmentally stagnant.
I’ve started to question many issues in my life. The first and most pressing question is about that cute little guy I’m fighting so hard to help. I can’t help but ask why is this so hard? Why can’t I have one of those amazing recovery stories parents report on my message boards? When am I going to see leaps and bounds progress that deserves a front-page headline? Am I doomed to question my research or Ronan’s development forever? Can I handle that pressure?
I’m usually a happy-go-lucky optimistic. My cup has always been half full. If it needs some refilling, I refill it myself. I don’t like to sit and just watch life saunter by; I want to be in life as much as possible. I put on a smile and attack whatever comes my way. People always tell me how astounded they are with how much energy I have. It’s this confident part of me that has temporarily left, and I am scared I’ve started to cave in to negative thoughts about Ronan’s future. Lately, I’ve started to ask myself: would it be so bad if Ronan stayed mentally a two- almost three-year old? Isn’t it okay that he’s doing something constructive even if it is push that damn button on his Leap Frog toy over and over again? A gluten-full cookie isn’t going to kill Ronan, so do I have to be the food police all day long?
One day this week Ronan had a major meltdown coming home from school. His angst, tears, head banging and wild screams brought me to the lowest emotional place I have been in a long time. Something obviously got the better of Ronan and since I couldn’t solve his problem, it started to eat away at me too. I want so much for Ronan to join me, play with me, laugh with me. Instead, something took over and he slipped away from me and the small sense of security I thought I had achieved. I wanted to throw in the towel and give up everything we’ve been fighting for. While I watched Ronan go through such a fit of rage, I let my strength and will to fight fade completely away. I so reveled in a bad mood that I had to put myself in time out. This pity party wasn’t planned nor will I allow it to come back.
Of course today is a better day and we’ve both had some time to heal and snuggle. Ronan did enjoy hearing a song today while I was singing nursery rhymes to the kids. I got to see that sweet smile slowly emerge and his big brown eyes light up as I sang about a bumble bee getting squished. He laughed and then came to sit in my lap—even bouncing to the beat! Progress! Slowly but surely, I felt some kind of positive energy come back, a positive force that I want to cling to.
I’m sure Ronan is going to have more ups and downs, go through exhausting days full of miscommunication from us, his teachers and therapists. While my pity party is almost done, I am working on tucking my own emotional thoughts away since they obviously don’t help, can’t contribute to recovery and just get in the way. This little boy never asked to be injured by his vaccines, never asked to lose what precious few words he had nor did he deserve the mental frustration he goes through on a daily basis. As much as I think it’s unfair for me to have to adapt my own ways as I raise my child with special needs, Ronan quickly and loudly reminded me during his recent meltdown that his life is not where he wants it to be either.
Ronan is a fighter and he’s bound and determined to let that be known on his bad days as well as his good days. I forgot in a sad and tense moment that he’s my inspiration. Thank God I had just a few brain cells left once my own negativity drained out of me and I can now get my mind back on track. My pity party is over and I’m ready for the next challenge of caring and loving that little kid again.
Cathy Jameson and her husband have 4 children. Their family is anxiously awaiting a new baby in the spring—it’s these little people that bring the family together despite the stress and busy-ness life throws them.