So I had a dentist appointment this morning. The water pick is a success. I highly recommend getting one. My gums are healthier. No cavities. Just clean teeth, go me! As I was in the chair, the hygienist was asking me about my life, and shared some of hers. It is amazing to hear other mothers who have "special" children.
That weary, yet loving voice. The obvious exhaustion, but still putting in the hours, because what else can you do?
When you are a parent to a special needs child, you are in a whole different ball game. It is not even remotely like what parenting a "normal" is. I don't think people get that.
I know that parenting my child, who has two diagnoses, and a possible third, is so very different from what I imagined being a parent was like. We have had to make choices that are literally heart breaking, life saving, and questionable on an almost daily basis. Do we medicate him with this? What are the short term side effects? Long term?
Here's the thing, there are no long term studies on the effects of these medications on children. We don't know if it going to be nothing, or something like the thalidomide side effects. You are now seeing advertisements for women who took Paxil while pregnant--lawyers circling--because of possible heart problems with the infants. What does this mean for a child?
We do not know.
Here is what we do know:
Not medicating is not an option in this family's play book. We know with the utmost certainty that death, injury, and long term trauma will be sustained if not treated. We know that as parents if we did not treat, sure we would have a thin child, but that child would also be effectively uncontrollable. He would not be able to learn, love, or even laugh. As a family we would be dysfunctional, in the worst way. We would not be a unit. A puzzle with no solution.
My heart went out to this woman, my hygienist, because she has 2 special children, and works full time. My heart went out to her because she knows the path is difficult, rocky, unknown in places, and scary. My heart went out to her because she understood what it is to be exhausted and stressed and at your very limit--but you go back because you love them. I admire her because her inner strength is so very strong and apparent.
I think parents of special children need to be acknowledged for every thing they do for their kids. Because frankly, it is not a cake walk, and it takes courage, strength, and most of all love. (and maybe a stiff drink)