By Kat Abianac
You spend the first few years of being a special needs parent just keeping your head above water and finding your feet.
You deal with the discovery not all special needs parents have as much in common with you as you originally thought.
You make the leap from the original large fishbowl you found, of parents who have children with the same disability. You make connections with other special needs parents whose beliefs resonate with your own.
You meet adults with the same disability as your child. You learn from said adults. You learn from disability advocates and other parents. You lose friends. You gain friends. You make mistakes. You become stronger and more resilient.
And then, eventually, you find there’s a few things you simply stop giving a crap about.
- Giving a crap about people asking whether my child was diagnosed at birth or in utero. Ask me, I don’t care. I won’t read into it like I used to. It’s just a conversation starter. I get that. Then they will probably head on over and ask my friend with twins if they’re identical.
- Giving a crap about being late for stuff. My friends will all tell you I was late for stuff before I was a special needs parent. That bar isn’t gonna magically shift enough for me to suddenly feel bad about it NOW. My kid just likes taking 20 minutes to exit the house and get in the car. Why stress? I just start earlier now and blame the traffic.
- Giving a crap about coordinating outfits. I have been known to burst into proud tears when my kid gets his pants on by himself. What can I say? The longer the wait, the sweeter the victory. While he decides a superhero shirt matches flower pants AND puts them on himself, I’m over here high fiving myself for managing to find his shoes in the newly created floordrobe.
- Giving a crap about people making small talk about their neighbour’s dog’s aunt who saw a guy on TV painting a skyline from memory who has the same disability as my child. High five! Except that was a guy with autism. But I think it’s totally cool you’re initiating a conversation about my kid so I’ll just steer you into an interesting anecdote instead of getting butthurt over your non-idetic memory.
- Giving a crap about memes telling me I’m a hero for having a kid with special needs. I’m not defined by my child and he’s not defined by me. Twin mums, I salute you. First-time mums, 2nd 3rd and 4th-time mums, you’re awesome too. So are you badass breastfeeders. And mums of kids with medical conditions. Mums of all boys or all girls. Special needs mums…we’re pretty ace but we’re not better people than you regular old parents with your typical kids. Let’s raise each other up equally and support when needed, instead of sharing memes which create a pissing contest to see whose life is harder.
- Giving a crap about people’s looks and opinions when I discipline my child in public. No kid will get a free ride on my watch. Even if he’s obscenely cute with big brown eyes. You probably didn’t notice him pinch me under the arm or pull my hair because he’s cranky and has delayed speech. And I don’t care to explain it to you.
- Giving a crap about my ‘gonna’ list. It’s eliminated. Gone. I have a clean slate. I do it or it doesn’t happen. Life is infinitely beautiful, and WAY too short. I don’t need a list pinned to make me feel bad. I’m pretty good at doing that WITHOUT a list. And I’m working on that, too.
- Giving a crap about disciplining a grown ass man using the ‘r’ word in front of my child. Want a breakdown of the history of the word ‘retard’ and exactly how limited you’re showing your vocabulary and common sense to be? Then use it within hearing distance of me. That goes for you too, NW Magazine.
- Giving a crap about not going to events. I had an oxygen baby for 16 months. I had more interest in running my nails along a chalkboard than backing out my driveway. I now have a child who requires constant supervision. I won’t apologise for it…But if you invite me somewhere that’s not securely gated, I’m not coming and I’ll explain that. No need for hard feelings on either side. I don’t like my heart beating from my chest every time my child leaves my peripheral. I’ll just catch you at the next thing.
- Giving a crap about sweating the small stuff. My son changed my life. I’m empathetic, more attuned to my emotions and others. I care more about my communities. I’ve been to the most beautiful celebration of a beautiful child’s life – after it suddenly ended. I felt the love and community in every corner of that room and wept for hours. Life is so very short. If I can’t do it for myself, I’ll do it for the parents who walked my path and only wish to still have as much as I do.
- Giving a crap about perfection, and everyone’s highlights reel. I see my own bigger picture now. Every moment is full colour, vibrant and glorious. My table settings may never match and my son might wear floral pants with a Christmas shirt. My couches won’t be upgraded for another two years and I’ll probably wake up at 5am to squeeze in everything I have to get done this week.
This is my life. I love it, I wouldn’t wish to change it, and I sure as hell won’t apologise for it.
Love to you, every special needs parent! Forge your own path in life, even if it doesn’t look like mine. Do it just for you.
Originally published on Parker Myles.
Kat Abianac is the owner of Kat & Fox Digital, a Wellness Advocate & online course creator. From Brisbane Australia, she is also a proud parent to two beautiful children. Follow her on Facebook or visit www.katabianac.com.