It was one of those nights. My little family couldn't seem to settle down. At 1:00 A.M. my son Zach and I were still wide awake. He was hungry and requesting corn dogs (of all things), and I was nervous. My husband was going in for oral surgery in the morning. I was predicting it would be one of those days.
One of those days when being a wife and a mom means being "on" without a break for a long time. As a special needs mom, I'm certainly "on" 24-7 on a regular basis. People ask is your son high functioning? I never know how to answer that; he depends on me for the things that keep him alive and safe. So, no matter what the circumstances, I'm on.
As a special needs mom, you know it's going to be one of those days when your spouse is out of commission. There won't be help. No back-up, no second set of eyes so you can answer the door when FedEx pulls up or go to the bathroom with the door closed.
As I write this, the surgery is over and all went well. His eyes are half shut and comprehension is compromised right now. The day will wear on as the sedation wears off, but after having to wake my son up earlier than usual, I now face a day and night where I'm "on" for him and double "on" for my husband. Should my husband need anything, I must be there.
It's not a complaint. It's just reality. There's no family close by, so I'm it. And school is still closed due to covid restrictions. The thing to do is what we normally do; it's just that everything becomes amplified in situations like this.
And for me, my nerves get jarred. I was awake and worried last night. I was up before the alarm. I scrambled as moms do to prepare everything this morning so we'd have a smooth departure and return.
I am not sure what my son understands about the concept of surgery. We've been here before, and part of the stress is that it sure was not easy during those recoveries. It becomes one of those weeks really. The truth of the matter is it's absolutely not limited to one day. Like a pebble dropped in water, there are waves that unsettle things for a while.
Special needs parents are keenly aware of this. You are taking care of every detail every minute of every day, and, simultaneously seeing to every physical, mental, social, and emotional need of your child. It's tough, and it can be exhausting.
You know the feeling, don't you? All you want to do is retreat to a cozy corner with a good book. Or better yet, lie on a beach under a palm tree on your own private island. Just for a day...
As I walked into the house, assisting my sedated husband so he wouldn't trip and watching my son so he wouldn't knock something over in our path, my own legs felt weak. That's the lack of sleep, the nerves, the worry, the anticipation of a long weekend, and perhaps the too-light breakfast I had.
I sit down for a moment with my son in sight and realize my unkempt hair shoved in a bun and un-make-upped face are going to stay that way for the next several days. And it's okay. It's natural, and I like natural. We really need groceries (read about that here!) and I'm not sure I'm up to the task today. But I will probably go anyway.
For me, I turn to gratitude. It might be a tough day or a tough string of days. It could even be a "bad" month. Or, as we've seen with covid and 2020, a realllllly long year. But gratitude fortifies.
I'm not sure my husband feels gratitude right now for the teeth that misbehaved. But I have gratitude for the surgeon who could help him. Gratitude for my son who seems to be taking it in stride right now. Gratitude for the fridge I can fill with food later. Gratitude for the ability I seem to have to carry the extra weight and responsibility.
To all the mother-warriors out there who relentlessly care for their families and become the sole steward of everything and everyone when called upon to do so, I see you and respect you. You ROCK.
Special needs moms have a steadfast and unshakeable commitment to their loved ones. Whether it's the daily work you do, or the stepping-up that occurs when life calls you up to bat, special needs moms rise to the occasion. Shaky legs and all.