I know people wonder how I do it... "You've got your hands full", "I don't know how you cope", "You must be Supermum", "Wow, are they ALL yours?" (Er yea, I pick up hitch-hiking toddlers on my way to town...). Honestly - it isn't something I give much thought to, you just get on with it. Just like I don't remember what it is like not to have a child with special needs, to me he is just L... This is who L is, this is how he is, we just get on with it. There is no point dwelling on the things that you cannot change, wondering what might have been. He is an amazing kid and loved by all of us, he has shown us things that we might never have seen before, put us in situations in which we have met some truly wonderful people. He has enriched our lives in more ways than I could ever tell you.
And having five children is a lot of work, there is no denying it. But just the other week I watched them tearing around the garden throwing water at each other & squealing with laughter and my heart just swelled. Seeing how much they love each other (most of the time at least) and enjoy being together, it makes me happy knowing that in later life when their dad and I are not around any more, that they will have each other. I know they will take care of each other, and they will never be alone in this world.
There are times when one of them is playing up (J had a nuclear meltdown last week, for one example) and I feel TIRED. It can wear you down, wipe you out. Some days do feel like a constant struggle, other days are a breeze (in comparison) from start to finish. No two days are the same, there is something to be learned each and every day, which is where my blog name comes from - Mama OWL, Observing Wondering Learning. I watch, I wonder, I learn. I grow as a parent in the same way that they grow as people. They have opened my eyes, and I am also lucky enough to have L to show me things in ways I never would have imagined.
The only thing that I would change is other peoples attitudes. Especially people who do not understand special needs, they will see an upset child and automatically assume that that child is just 'naughty', or 'a handful', that I don't parent them well enough and that is why they're "acting out". Even that I have too many kids and that I can't be effectively parenting them if one is 'playing up'.
They won't even consider that he has been alarmed by a loud or different noise, by a new situation, by there being too many people around, or maybe that his routine has been interrupted. I would love just for in that split second before they tut or shake their head, that it might just cross their mind that there is something that they can't see that has caused this behaviour. That it isn't his fault any more than it is mine. Just a little consideration and understanding that you cannot tell things about a person simply by looking at them.
If I could share anything with you, it would be to live your life and parent your children in a way that makes you happy and that works for you. Life is too short to be half-lived and spent worrying about what other people think of you, or trying to be something that you're not. In the very wise words of Dr Seuss; "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind".
So yes, I am a mother of five, ranging in age from teen to toddler, boys and girls, and special needs. My hands are definitely full. But so is my heart.
- This entry was written for Here Come The Girls Blog Carnival.