Before you have kids you have a perfect image of what life will look like in that season. Being realistic there is a big difference between what I imagined and the reality.
I didn’t expect to have 3 boys… everyone has one of each right?! A child who eats terribly and thinks chocolate covered raisins are healthy wasn’t in the plan! Most of all I didn’t imagine I would have a child whose additional needs impact every day.
Sometimes in public when our families craziness is on display people will look sympathetically and ask ‘how do you manage?’ I have a range of replies by my most used one is “I have very low expectations!”
It’s not to sound negative or ungrateful but realistic or low expectations help me to find joy in smaller details and not to feel as disappointed and guilty when things go wrong.
All humans and particularly mums place a huge amount of pressure on themselves and consequently their children too. There is a big pressure to not merely be coping, but achieving and succeeding.
Aspirations are not all bad but there are some weeks, months and seasons where our achievements in the worlds terms will be fairly low, unquantifiable and lead to a range of difficult emotions.
Each day is a battle as I have to remind myself constantly that it’s not what I do or not do, earn or achieve that defines me or H. I cannot cure his autism or change his behaviours but I can change the pressure I put on myself and him to fit in.
In the past, I would take every target, suggestion and idea so seriously and write endless lists of activities we were going to do to achieve them. I felt responsible for making H school ready and bridging the developmental gap – I now care much less! I am still a ‘pushy parent’ in lots of ways but I try to focus on what really matters and to hold lightly to academic achievements. Life skills, creativity and having fun are of greater importance.
Being Christians our biggest desire is that Harry believes and trusts in Jesus and remembering what lasts forever puts the everyday into perspective.
We watch a lot more TV and eat a lot more snacks than my hypothetical children would have done! Decreasing H’s anxiety is a top priority and we try not to sweat the small stuff. Everything in moderation of course!
Sometimes I think my hypothetical children would have been a bit dull but guess I’ll never know!