I was told today, emphatically, by one of Kiran’s long-time therapists, that I am a great mom. I have no idea how she measured this or what observations she made that determined this, but she was sincere. And very sweet.
I often think to myself, when receiving this compliment, that it certainly doesn’t feel like it. I hold so much guilt, daily, about not being enough for Kiran.
There’s never enough time. The balance is off. I don’t have enough energy. I have too many household things to tend to. The list goes on.
I didn’t invent mama guilt, but I have certainly perfected the concept.
I recently read something that talked about special needs parenting just being “more”. And it is.
Because I am Kiran’s mobility, I can’t take him to the park and just say “Go play!” and sit on the bench to drink a latte. (This should be the first line of my next poem.)
Because he is still learning to play, I feel guilty every time I just sit him down with a toy in front of him. Inevitably, a couple minutes pass, and he has either 1) thrown the toy off to the side, out of reach (or at least out of sight, out of mind; object permanence isn’t a strong skill yet), 2) thrown his body back so he is lying down just playing with his hands or staring at the ceiling, 3) taken his glasses off and decided they make a tasty snack or 4) any combination of the above three items.
But tonight, as I brought him downstairs with the intention of reading books before bed, I noticed my forgotten pile of laundry laid out on my bed, waiting to be folded and put away. I am not 100% in the healthy department this week, and I am feeling very rundown by the time Kiran goes to bed at 7:30 (a little early tonight, since I sat down to type this right after settling him in bed).
So, do you know what I did? I thought to myself (which I don’t do nearly as often as I should): What would I do if he were a typical almost-4 year old?
Answer: I would say “Mama’s going to do laundry; you go play with your toys until bed.”
Because there is something about being done – as done as a mom ever is – with chores before the little one goes to bed.
So, I said that to him. And I sat him on the floor where he could see me and we could chat, and I put a couple toys in front of him.
And – this is not always the case, as outlined above – he stayed sitting the entire time and even interacted with his toys more than he normally does before deciding he was done with them. He grew frustrated with his banter at one point, and I gently reminded him I was doing laundry, and he could play with his toys until bedtime. He only took his glasses off once, and I did correct that behavior. But otherwise, he sat and played with his toys, and I did the damn laundry.
Easily half of the stuff I post on facebook lately has to do with inclusion and embracing differences and incorporating kids with special needs into the classroom. And yet, I struggle with it in my own life. In our own daily routine.
No, I can’t say “go play” at the park and just watch him from a bench. I can’t say “go put your pjs on” or “go make yourself a bowl of cereal”. There is a lot that *has* to be different in our day; a lot of my life is very hands-on care-giving.
But I can do something typical like have him play with his toys before bed, so I can get my laundry finished. And I don’t have to feel guilty about that.