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I was watching an episode of the television show Speechless last week.
The episode centered around special needs moms and dads getting together for support.
All the special needs moms perhaps in slight competition with each other.
The dads gathering to around just waiting on the moms to give them direction and a task to complete.
While the episode was comical and perhaps exaggerated just a touch, it made some very valid points and was true to form on special needs parenting dynamics.
She arrived bearing a hostess gift of a homemade cake with a handmade decorated box for the cake.
It immediately put the rest of the moms on high guard. With lives that are so complicated most special needs moms struggle to accomplish making their lives resemble anything that looks like it's in order.
So, when a new member comes into the group that seems to be able to do it all... makes the rest of the group feel inadequate.
This inevitably leads to tension when they relocate the special needs mom gathering to the new mother's home only to find that her home is overly-organized, spotless and beautiful.
The rest of the special needs moms twinged in a big way and their feelings resulted in resentment and conflict towards the mom that appeared to be able to do it all - and do it perfectly.
It's not because I can do it all, because I certainly wish I could, but can't.
It's not because I'm trying to be better than the next special needs mom, or that I think I'm in some way perfect.
My confession is that being overly- organized has become my coping mechanism, if you will, for coping with the stress of special needs parenting.
When your child's diagnosis feels out of your hands, situations feel out of your hands, when you have zero control over things you wish you did - the only thing sometimes that relieves that stress or provides a moment of comfort is finding power over something you can control - and in my case that happens to be cleaning and organizing.
It's the one thing I can control or fix.
So maybe my house sometimes looks like no one really lives in it or puts their feet in the couch (although I assure you that does happen), or maybe that my cabinets look like a picture on Pinterest, or that my closets are color coordinated and sorted by season.
But that doesn't mean that I'm trying to display a show that I am in any way better than the next parent.
So the next time you're measuring yourself up against another special needs mom, whether she seems to have the world put together, or one that has a dishevelled and messy home, remember we're all on the same playing field.
We juggle a lot and how we each handle things or how we cope will look differently.
Some moms turn to chocolate, some become compulsive exercisers, some over-organizers... none of us are better than the next nor are we trying to be.
Be gentle and easy on yourself for whatever your "vice" is.
We all have one. We all create it to help us get through the day.
And remember not to be critical of someone else's way of finding order, or giving themselves a small piece of comfort.
We are all just as special and unique as our children are.
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