I leaned over the kitchen counter, my head in my hands, and tried to take a few deep breaths.
The house was a disaster, I hadn’t finished reading lessons my youngest in three days, I was still in my pj’s at 11AM, and my eleven year old was melting down over not being able to buy a crested gecko in the next 10 minutes.
So, you know, it was one of those days.
As I stood there, trying to force back the tears, trying to get it together, trying not to lose my you know what and either start yelling or drive away in the car, plain as day I had a loud and clear thought –
“You are totally messing this up.”
In a moment of pure, Holy Spirit clarity, I thought back to myself, “Why do I believe these things about myself and these children? I know they are not absolutely true. I know my husband and my friends would never say these things about my mothering.”
The short answer is, they are lies.
(I have a beautiful friend who, upon hearing me actually vocalize one of these lies, grabbed me by the arms, looked straight into my eyes and said, “That is a lie straight from the pit of hell. It is not true.” Gotta love a girl who will care for her friend like that and do it with the sweetest, softest southern accented voice…)
I have spent the last week prayerfully trying to identify all the lies I am hearing. I am shocked at how often they creep up. I am amazed at how they affect my decision-making, my mood, and my mothering.
I found they are all variations of five soul sucking thoughts.
The Lies I Believe About Being A Special Needs Mom
1. It is Sooooo Different
This one creeps up more often than I would like the admit. When other moms try to help and speak into my life, I can be prone to thinking, “Your kids are so great. You have no idea what this is like. My life as a mom is soooooo different from yours.”
While that might be true on a practical level sometimes, I think the reality is that it is a lot less different than it is the same. I have been amazed at how many moms have commented here on the blog and said, “My daughter doesn’t have autism, but I can completely identify. I think these things too!”
When my friends and I talk about our children, most of the time we have the same concerns, the same hopes, and the same expectations of motherhood.
2. Maybe The Doctors Got It Wrong
I am not sure why this one still creeps up so much. One day I want to write about the five stages of grief and getting your child’s diagnosis, mostly because the denial phase is kinda crazy.
I still, despite all the evidence to the contrary with both of my sons, I still sometimes think maybe those doctors got it all wrong. Maybe it’s not that bad. This inevitably leads to the next lie…
3. It’s All My Fault
Somehow I believe that I did this. That I ruined both of my kids and although they appear to have autism and mental illnesses, it was really me that messed up somewhere along the way and now they are damaged from it.
I know it makes no sense. I know all the research. I can see the obvious genetics in play. Logically, I know this is crazy.
Yet, I honestly still think and operate as if my poor mothering is what caused all of this.
No wonder I am still in my jammies at 11AM.
4. It’s Never Going To Get Better, or conversely, If I Work Harder It Will All Get Better
I put the two of these together because I find that I tend to ride the pendulum swing between them way too often.
I often find myself totally depressed and actually, whole-heartedly believing that it is never, ever going to get any better than it is right now. I can look back and see all the progress we have made in the past year. I can look ahead to all of the therapies, programs and learning opportunities we will make the most of, and I logically know it will change and improve over time.
But there are still days where I absolutely believe that progress will not happen.
The evil twin of this lie is the polar opposite – If I just do ___________, it will all get better.
If I could just figure out the right bedtime schedule, find the right homeschool curriculum, add more exercise to our routine, take away screen time, change his diet again, finally get in to see the specialist, find the softest tagless socks, take him to speech therapy…
If I could just do all of these things and more, we could make it better.
This one is so insidious. It implies that something needs to be “fixed” about my children. That they are not fearfully and wonderfully made and therefore need to be changed.
I am so sad that I believe this one so often.
I realize that working to get them the best options for treatment and support is a good thing. But believing that somehow God’s plan is not for our good, and it is something that I need to change, is harmful for us all.
5. I Am Failing
And finally, the mother of all the motherhood lies – I am failing.
I let them watch a movie when I should’ve been baking with them. I am failing.
I let them stay up way past bedtime, not because they had something special, but because I was exhausted and couldn’t bring myself to get up off the couch and start the bedtime routine. I am failing.
I let them have cake for breakfast (again). I am failing.
I forgot to schedule their 6 month dentist check-up. I am failing.
I didn’t make them go to church on Sunday. I am failing.
All of these lies create chaos and confusion and frustration, both in my heart and in my relationship with my children.
And they are just lies.
So today, I pray I choose truth. I pray I choose to believe what my husband and my sweet southern friend and that nice lady at the farmers’ market and the doctor we saw two weeks ago believe about me and my sweet boys. I pray I do not dismiss all of these opinions for twisted versions of our life.
Today, I pray I have the eyes to see us as we truly are.
Loving Each Other
Sinning Against Each Other
A Family Getting It Wrong
A Family Getting It Right
Completely Dependent on Grace
For more on mothering children with special needs: