So. You’re raising a child as best as you can.
One with “issues” as they say.
Raising said child takes up a substantial amount of your time. Between the speech therapy and the play therapy, the sensory diet and the occupational therapy, it’s amazing you and your best beloved even know what the other looks like.
Now let’s imagine that even though you always keep one eye out on the horizon for the one thing that could finally be It – someone, somewhere, somehow, still finds it their duty to tell you how you should be running your child’s life.
And not just one someone – a whole truckload of someones.
Wherever you go, whether it’s the teenage bagger at the grocery store, a “concerned” mom at the local playground, a friend, neighbor, brother, sister, uncle, or goodness knows who else, everyone seems to want to tell you exactly what to do.
Actually, there are a lot of things you have to do. Bathing is one thing. Wiping after you go to the bathroom is another. And there are definitely things you have to do if you want have a particular outcome. Like, it’s a good idea to pay your electric bill on time if you like seeing when it’s dark outside.
You can’t do everything. You can’t even do half of everything.
You know it’s a recipe for failure, but can’t seem to stop yourself.
It’s the Latest Fad
Therapies go in and out of style just like everything else. A while back, it was gluten-free, casein-free diets and supplements. Go back a little more and hyperbaric therapy was the thing you absolutely had to do. Back when I started out Glenn Domain was all the rage, and for a couple of years kids as old as 15 or 16 spent umpteen therapy sessions crawling around cramped offices.
While I won’t deny that sometimes you have to try out a bunch of things before you find what works for you, parents sometimes lose focus. There’s a lot of pressure to hop on the bandwagon before you’ve checked out whether or not a particular therapy is a good fit for your family.
Maybe a gluten-free casein-free diet worked miracles for your neighbor’s sister’s third cousin’s child. But maybe the time and money you’d have to spend on the food that’s involved are more than your one-parent income can handle.
So before you rush to attend a week-long workshop at some center halfway across the country (it costs almost as much as a year of college, but hey – without it, your kid may not get to college, right?), don’t just check out your bank account.
Take a quick inventory of where you and your family stand emotionally and physically too. If the needle is edging towards the red, then take a pass for now.
You’d Feel Guilty If You Didn’t
What better way to show you really care than to feel guilty every time you don’t give your absolute best, financially or otherwise.
Isn’t it amazing that no matter how much you’ve done for your child, you still feel guilty because there’s so much more you could or should be doing? Even I’m guilty of it.
On a typical day, I spend time planning, creating, and playing learning games with all four of the little kids. A few times a week I work with them on a game I created that helps strenghten memory and improve intelligence. My second-grader needs major help with her homework every day, and I often find myself using other learning games to make sure she masters the material. And that’s with all of the other things that go on with running a business and managing a family of 10.
At the end of the day, I still feel like there was so much that I should have gotten done.
What I’ve learned is that you can always find something to feel guilty about it.
Maybe it’s because we’re too hard on ourselves, or maybe we spend too much time imagining everyone else is doing a better job (They’re not. They’re actually looking at you thinking the exact same thing).
Whatever the reason, avoid the guilt trip by asking yourself: “Have I done the best I can with the resources (physical, emotional, financial) I have today?” If the answer is yes, let it go.
If the answer is no, resolve to do better tomorrow – and let it go.
This Could Be IT
The other reason you force yourself to try everything that comes your way is something most parents won’t even admit to themselves most of the time.
It’s the secret hope that you harbor deep down inside of yourself, that maybe this is the one thing that will finally turn things around.
Maybe, just maybe, this will be the thing that lets you step off of the hamster wheel. The thing that turns you into a regular family with a typical child – one that doesn’t need any more extra help than anyone else. You might even let yourself fantasize about sharing your child’s success story on Oprah some day, wondering with tears in your eyes about the serendipity of it all.
It’s this fantasy, whether we’re conscious of it or not, that fuels our mad rush to do and be everything our kids need, even if we kill ourselves doing it.
Unfortunately, it’s never that simple.
There is no one thing that will fix the boo-boo and make everything better. No secret cure. No magic bullet.
You might as well click your heels three times and wish you were back in Kansas.
In reality, success – and this is true for life in general- is like putting together one of those massive 10,000 piece puzzles. Some pieces are easy to find, while others need just a bit of work to see where they go.
The pieces that are left get turned around upside down, sideways -even flipped over backwards- to see where they go. Half the time placing a piece in the right place happens through dumb luck.
And sometimes, you might not even be able to put the whole puzzle together, no matter how hard you try.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy doing the puzzle while it lasts. And it also doesn’t mean you have to put all the puzzle pieces together to know what it is.
Know when to let go.
Know when to just sit back, and enjoy your child.
Your child will be a better person for it – guaranteed.