Summer Emotions

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by Stacy Warden

Typically colder weather is associated with mood changes.  

There is a decrease in sunlight and natural Vitamin D, cabin fever sets in, and hibernation feels like an answer to it all. 

So, what’s with all the overwhelming feelings that many special needs parents experience in the summer months?

It’s a time of disconnection, it’s a time when you don’t feel like doing therapy, or attending a friend’s barbeque, or engaging in your typical special need support groups. 

Yearning for a hint of fun - a hint of the familiar normal that once existed. You’d rather sit in the sun, watch the flowers bloom and the grass grow. 

You want to go on long walks, find a way to hike on accessible trails with your child, and to feel alive. 

With summer comes complicated emotions that we try to suppress. 

You’ll see the neighborhood child across the street learning to ride a bike without training wheels and their parents cheering them on. 

You wish that was your child too, knowing that they’ll never be able to ride a bike or be able to even attempt to pedal a bike. 

You will see a child throw a ball or play tennis in the street. 

Typical children are out playing in parks, your field of vision is filled with children do all the things your child can’t and may likely never well be able to do. 

It stings and burns and hurts something fierce. You camouflage those feelings so no one sees the pain in your eyes or detects the pain. 

Many special needs parents do what comes naturally. They purposefully withdraw from others.

 It starts slow. Perhaps you become less respondent to emails and phone calls, then it expands to not verbally wanting to discuss how you are feeling or events in your life with others, and sometimes this even carries over to your spouse where you feel too exhausted to go over the day’s events, how your child did in therapy, or how you are feeling because after all the weight of the world is on your shoulder. 

The heat intensifies the flame and the burning in your heart. 

It becomes an irritant, even more so when you have a child that can’t regulate body temperature and has sensitivities to the sun that make you feel like you might as well be a Vampire family, only coming out at night. 

The summertime can be a blaring reminder of how cheated we feel. 

We question why us? Why me? Why my child? More than we do during other seasons. 

We long for a normal vacation without planning like the world is ending and you’re packing everything your child owns into a small vehicle just for an overnight stay at a hotel.

And all we can do is acknowledge that we are having these feelings - these perfectly acceptable and normal feelings. 

These summer emotions can get the best of us if we stew on them too long. 

When I feel any of these feelings creeping up on me the best relief comes in shifting my focus to something else. 

Distractions are good, finding time at the end of the evening to read an inspirational book, finding a fun activity that the whole family can participate in, sometimes not opening your front blinds so you don’t have to watch the neighbor child learning to ride a bike…

...whatever it takes to put those hot summer emotions on ice.    

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