Submitted by Guest Blogger:
Executive Director of the DSDN Network
I know how things will likely go- me chasing my kid everywhere and not being able to let my eyes off of him for a minute. Then I will be resentful of the other dozen parents there with kids my kids age who are having conversations, sitting down and rarely catching a glimpse of their child for the evening. I know no one else will notice or care, but for me, I’d rather stay home.
Nights like this is where I feel the difference.
I like the people there. We just generally don’t go places (even if it is just down the street) because in this season it is just too hard. The exhaustion from the general perils of parenting and the addition of the mischievity (is that even a word?!) of a kiddo that doesn’t grasp danger/safety. Yes, he plays with other kids and they play with him. Yes, he is included in activities and events. Yes, he is cared for, but it just isn’t the same as parenting a typical kid.
New parents often ask what differences we have in our life raising a child with a “special need.” As far as parenting my kid with Ds, I can’t complain a lot- we’ve had very few health issues and he has matured and grown a lot in communication the past year, which in turn has helped us all cohabitat tremendously. I know you can feel it coming….BUT.
The “but” for us is the supervision factor.
While most friends with kids our kids ages are in a glorious state of greater independence, my reality looks a little differently. Rather than sitting and reading at the pool while the kids play, I am in the water an arms length away. Rather than running to the bathroom during the day when nature calls, I am ensuring all of the outside doors are latched so my escapee doesn’t run out to look for me if he notices I am gone. Rather than sending the kids out to the yard to play to get caught up on things inside, I’m likely a few steps away.
And while I’m not a helicopter parent in my typical parenting life, I have become a hovering “just in case” or “what if” parent in his case. And not because I want to, but out of necessity. If we don’t keep a closer watch, we could become the next tragic accident.
I know this all will pass in time. This summer I can already taste some of that sweet independence this year more than any before and I am a hopeful, but in these moments, it can be hard.
So I work to remember that these seasons with my kids will come to pass sooner than I’d like. I try to live in those moments and have fun alongside the kids. I laugh as I listen to the stories they tell with their friends. And I try so hard to keep in mind that while I am craving my independence, I’m also getting an inside look at their lives and that helps the days feel a little shorter. I am grateful for our family and friends that “get it” and lend a hand or watchful eye so that we can let our guard down for a moment and just be.
I know that sweet spot of parenting is just over the horizon, so until then we do our best and enjoy today for what it is. Just don’t expect us at many events this decade. ❤️”