Being a Special Needs Parent is Exhausting

I know what you’re thinking: Yeah, kids are exhausting. Parenting is hard. Welcome to the club. 

What I really mean is, my kids are exhausting for me, a person with mental illness that is not yet controlled. That’s more accurate but not a very catchy title. Let’s just take a look at what parenting is like sometimes when mama or papa has a brain that won’t stop. Cuz let me tell ya, my brain, it’s a doozy.

Can’t stop, won’t stop

First, for the biggest and most obvious example: babies. Everyone wants to look at babies. Touch the babies, talk to the babies, make the babies laugh, and then they ask the parent questions like, “how old are they?” “why are they not wearing shoes?” “do you have any more?” “can I hold them?” “can I move in and turn this anxiety attack into full on panic mode?”

Okay that last one doesn’t happen, but still. It is overwhelming. My doctor, upon first meeting me, diagnosed me with “a variety of anxiety disorders,” which kinda makes it sound like a fun pack of candy, except it’s just different ways my brain likes to screw with me. Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, etcetera. Going out in public and dealing with strangers is hard enough for me, but I used to be able to awkward my way through things with as little social interaction as possible.

But then I had kids, and my children demand attention. My youngest, who is currently 16 or 17 months, something like that, is in the cutest stage imaginable. In public he will give people flirty eyes, he will wave and say hi, blow kisses, do whatever he can to ensure that everyone in the vicinity will come bow to his awesome adorableness. Honestly I can’t blame them. I made some cute kids. (Yes husband, you helped too blah blah blah.) But the whole time I’m just itching to get away and get home where no one will talk to me. Until the big kids get home.


Second example: when they come home from school, or *terrified gasp* are home for winter break! Or even worse, SUMMER BREAK. I’ve got to admit, I never understood why parents celebrated back to school time so damn hard, until I had kids myself who went to school. This shit is hard! But for me, I hate even saying it, but I feel like it might be a bit harder. One of my conditions is PMDD(premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and a major symptom is sensitivity to sound. To SOUND. I’m a mom of special needs kids with a sensitivity to sound. So at that time of the month I cannot bear to hear my own children talk to me. The constant singing, the fighting, the gazillion questions, and no kid, gazillion isn’t a real number. Do you guys know what comes after a googol? Or after a decillion? Too many questions!

Sorry kid, can’t hear ya.

Speaking of questions, and whatever else I was talking about, have I mentioned that my daughter and I both have ADHD? First of all, I struggle with so many of the normal things that badass parents conquer every day. Things like getting the kids to school on time, remembering what time to pick them up, making phone calls to therapists and doctors and the worst of all, playdates. My kids school is pretty awesome, and the people are so sweet so I’ve never been made to feel bad, but let’s just say I’m the one parent they will call on a half day to remind me that it’s a half day. Because I have forgotten and left my kids at school one too many times. Oof.

Oh, there’s so so so many more examples I could go through, but honestly, I’m tired. You know, because three kids, and a brain that won’t stop. The point is, I’ve come to look at things a bit differently over the years. I often say that I am a special needs parent. Which originally meant I am a mother to children with special needs. But who are we kidding here? I’m the one with special needs.

I need my kids to be quiet. Not possible.

I need them to pay attention. Because I can’t.

I need them to not attract so much damn attention. But seriously kid, we all know you’re cute.

I have so many needs in order to feel like I am a good mother, but let’s face it, these things aren’t going to happen. So instead I rely on what I can. Lots of alarm clocks, prayer, meds, alcohol, more meds, the occasional mental breakdown. Parenting is hard. So hard. But parenting special needs kids when you’ve got your own special needs? Damn exhausting.


Oh, and for any judgy Janes I’ll say it: It’s still worth it.