The other night, I ran to my bed and sobbed. I muffled my cries into my pillow. My chest heaved with each heavy breath as I let my pain pour out of me, and I cried so hard it hurt.
Parenting has taken a lot out of me lately, and it’s been overwhelming. More than anything, it’s been lonely.
I’m in the thick of parenthood, and it’s messy in a way that feels isolating because I’m not dealing with the typical parenting struggles. I’m dealing with a child society deems too old to be having meltdowns and who is struggling with developmental delays.
Sure, my husband is great and I have a few choice friends and family who get the struggle, but if it’s true that “it takes a village to raise a child,” then ours is seriously lacking.
I want a support system. I desperately need one, but most days I feel alone.
When you’ve got a child with behavioral and developmental difficulties, the crowd thins. It’s awful, because not only am I alone, but I can see my child is suffering too. They’re hurting and they need a lot of love, but many don’t have patience. Many turn their backs.
All I want is for someone to listen and to be compassionate, but compassion usually goes out the window when they see my child have a fit. Then all I’m left with is judgment because their kid never would have acted that way.
I long for someone to care, but instead, I’m alone because it seems there are limits to compassion, and they don’t extend to my kids’ fits and apparently, my parenting.
So I struggle on what feels like an island of isolation.
And I sit with my child in the meltdown. And I seek help and add my name to waiting lists. I work on my patience and building up my child in the midst of their pain. I try to research and learn about them. I try to explain to my friends and family that my child is struggling and needs patience and love, but so often my words seem to fade into thin air. There will be no understanding or sympathy here. In their eyes, I simply have a “troubled child” as a result of my bad parenting. And even on my child’s best days, they can’t see them for who they truly are because they only see the problems.
Slowly, it’s not just me who is isolated, but my child who’s written off as a lost cause.
And I can’t help but fear that even in my child’s immense progress, they will forever live in the shadow of their past. Stuck . . . as if their struggle has cemented their future. Unable to be truly seen.
My heart aches for my child, so I cry alone in my bed, and when the tears run dry, I try and muster up the strength to put on a brave face because I must shelter my sweet child from the pain.
What I desperately want is someone to listen. Someone to care. Someone to extend compassion to my daughter and grace to me, but it feels hopeless.
You have a support system when you fit into the norm. When you parent the same way as your family and friends or when your child behaves in socially acceptable ways, but in the struggle, you are alone. You reach out to people hoping for some support or a shoulder to cry on, but instead, you get hurtful advice or a raised eyebrow. So you stop reaching because it only adds to your pain. But deep down, you’ll never stop yearning for someone to just listen.
Because no one wants to do life alone, especially in the struggle.
You need someone to love you and your child through it—to walk alongside you, offering up encouragement and a shoulder to cry on when the day is too heavy. You need someone to see the beauty in your child—to see past all of the big emotions and build them up. To cheer them on. To root for them when it seems like the world is against them and trying to box them in.
And moms like me need support more than ever because hope grows out of love, and we desperately need both.