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Why “Self Care” Is A Bunch Of Bull For Special Needs Moms

Mamas, we’ve all heard it before. The concerns of friends and family that we’re running ourselves too thin. The suggestions of how to adjust our lives to get that much needed rest. And with each comment of care I can simultaneously laugh and scream.

“You need to make time for you.”

“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”

“Go get your nails done and relax.”

“Aww, it’s your first one? It’ll get easier.”

“I’m sure you can find 15 minutes a day to exercise, right?”

“Why don’t you go out and I’ll watch the baby.”

But as mamas of children on the spectrum, the whole “self care” thing is a load of bullshit. I would LOVE to take time off to just relax somewhere, getting a massage, listening to peaceful sounds of the rain forest, drinking exotic teas in peace, but that’s not my life.

self care bullshit

My life is all hustle, all day long and usually most nights. There’s therapies and appointments, IFSP meetings and emails, meal planning and meal nightmares. There’s hand-over-hand and redirection, sign language and prompting. There’s days when I’m kicking butt as a mom and a teacher. And there’s lots of days when I can’t stop crying because I’m failing harder than any mom that has ever existed. And let’s not forget the days when I don’t get to eat or sleep or shower. The ones where I can’t remember the last time I talked to my husband about something other than poop or meltdowns. And the days when I absolutely had to run errands and ended up having a full blown panic attack because I left my son with someone that’s not me.

Whenever I do get some “time off”, that’s when I can get laundry done or shopping for the 15 things I keep forgetting to add to the list because I’m always running on fumes. That’s the time I can finally sew the buttons back on my winter jacket instead of wearing three sweaters and a hoodie when I leave the house. That’s the time I’m working, because I can sit and concentrate to get a full thought and few sentences out without a little human asking me to sing The Wheels On The Bus…again.

I would love to relax, but the truth is I can’t. My life is hectic and chaotic and most days I’m just in survival mode. The last time I got my nails done all I could think about was all the things I wasn’t getting done while I wasted my time and money on finger-paint that I would surely ruin with the next load of dishes.

So dear Mamas of special needs kids, I get it. I won’t tell you that you need to take care of yourself. We know we need to, and we try to in our own little ways, when we can.

For now, we are surviving. And we’re doing an amazing job! xoxo

*If you have any concerns about your child, please discuss with their pediatrician or contact your local school district or Early Intervention center for an evaluation.*

Previously posted at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine.