I’m tired in a way sleep can’t fix. I’m exhausted in a way even a few days of me-time can’t alleviate. I often go to bed absolutely spent just to wake up where I left off. This happens whether I sleep well or I toss and turn all night.

No matter how I am feeling, I push it aside because I’m a mom, I come last right?

I’m a nurturer, a natural caregiver, an individual who will place other’s needs and wants before my own. I can’t stop it on most days, despite my body screaming at me to slow down. On the rare occasions I do say no,I feel unbelievably guilty. I apologize endlessly, worry I hurt someone’s feelings, and try to over-explain the reasons behind my choices.

It’s a vicious cycle, right? Is it one you are stuck in, too? How do we get out of it alive? Now, mix in parenting a little with autism, and you’ve got a cocktail to keep you loopy for hours. In all honesty, this is probably the most difficult part of this journey for me, knowing how to make sure my little guy is happy, genuinely happy.

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As a parent, our sole responsibilities are to make sure our babies are warm, healthy, and thriving. But what happens if you have a little who sometimes has a difficult time explaining when one of those responsibilities isn’t being met? Instead of saying, “Hey mom, I’m cold and my tummy hurts,” they just start crying. You try to narrow down what is happening because two minutes ago they were happy and laughing.

You look aroundnothing new is in their environment, you don’t see any physical marks such as if they bumped into something or fell, in fact, everything on the outside looks completely normal. How do you fix an issue if everything appears normal?

How do I help my baby when he is sobbing and can’t even point or just refuses to tell me what is wrong? Here comes the secret of it all . . . I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know how to help him feel better.

In this moment, I’m lost, I’m defeated, I’m sad, I’m exhausted. In fact, my little guy is probably feeling the exact emotions.

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So I cuddle him like I’ve never cuddled him before, and I cry with him. We cry a lot together and that really used to bother me. I used to hide my emotions from him but simultaneously tell him it’s OK to let his out. I would literally close my bedroom door, explain mommy needed a timeout and sob, a complete cry session for a good few minutes. How exactly was I leading by example if I hid in my closet and cried my eyes out but encouraged him to express his?

I’m in over my head most days. I’m treading water with weights on my ankles. Every now and then the waves calm down and the treading gets easier, but a storm is always on the horizon. We always survive the storms and come out on top, but they often leave us both exhausted.

I fight hard to help my son every day and now it’s time I fight to stop treading in stormy waters. I at least want a rowboat to go through the storms. To achieve my rowboat goals, I first have to schedule an appointment with a doctor for my own anxiety. It’s very common for parents, who have a little on the spectrum, to experience anxiety and/or depression.

RELATED: My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

I find we are so worried and focused on the health of our little one from making sure the schools are following IEPs, 504 Plans, managing constant medication adjustments, strict schedules, and everyday life we put ourselves on the back-burner. Not just any back-burner but THE back-burner, which hardly gets used (yes, we all have a burner we don’t like at this ageit’s OK to admit it).

Why do we fight so hard for our littles but then often ignore our own health, when our kids need us to be healthy?

I encourage you to reach out and seek medical help for any issues you might be having. Reach out if you are having difficulty eating certain foods, if your vision is blurry, or if like me, you’re treading the stormy waters.

In order to help our kiddos live a warm, healthy, and thriving life, we, too, need to be healthy.

Previously published on the author’s blog

Renee Lutz

Hey ya'll! My name is Renee and the adorable little man in the attached picture is my son, who was recently diagnosed with Autism. I'd love to bring more awareness to Autism, encourage more chatter about it, and connect people so they don't feel so alone.