YAY! Birthdays! Right?!
Not so much when you have kids...particularly neurodiverse ones. Today is my birthday. Everyone keeps wishing my happy day and hope you have a calm day. I know their sentiments are sincere and they truly hope that for me. I haven't experienced a CALM day in years. Probably not since before I had kids.
That sounds SO bitter. I'm not. Really. I'm more than thrilled with the life I get to have. That I chose. That I built with Leigh. We didn't know we'd have such challenging kids, but we wouldn't change that. They're amazing people who need a little more time and consideration and a lot more patience and teaching. Academically, I teach very little...they kind of do that on their own. Socially, emotionally, etc is labor intensive.
So for my birthday, I am teaching 6/7 of the kids. It's Monday. That's weekly. Will is struggling lately with something so every. little. thing. is a massive issue. For instance, he's been inside for almost 10 minutes now because he thinks his brother planted snow at the bottom of the slide then encouraged him to descend thereby intentionally making Will's pants wet. Is that something Mack would do? Yes. Was Mack trying to be mean? No. His ADHD means he can't think all the way through these kinds of situations. We don't know whether Mack actually planted the snow. Or if Sawyer did. Or if either of them actually knew the slide was wet. All I know is that Will's pants are wet, he's upset, and thinks there was malicious intent involved. This is not the first issue today.
I say this is a little thing. Really, it is in the grand scheme of life. To Will, it is not small. And I am not treating him or the situation as though it is small. That would invalidate Will's feelings which I will not do. Instead, I am hearing his words, offering comfort, and asking what kind of help he wants. He is, at the moment, unable to answer. But he knows I am here when he is ready.
That is one small snapshot of the day that I've been wished calm. There has been the case of large stuffies, stuffy complaints, missing clipboards, multiple explanations and questions trying to get kids to understand my point, a child trying to sneak through the star bars after being told no to upstairs...and so on! Y'all, it isn't yet noon!!
The people who are thinking of me lovingly are deeply appreciated. Their well wishes for calm and happiness are warm hugs on a too cold day. They make me smile. But I want to be real with you all. Mom life is HARD. It is not calm and happy all the time. And our birthdays have no bearing on our children's actions. In fact, none of mine have even acknowledged that today is my birthday. I don't expect them to. Rory may have a cake waiting when I get home and then the others will realize. And Will will feel badly for having a tough day and I will get to fix that.
The point is that it is OKAY to feel like you don't matter and the happy platitudes of those outside your immediate bubble are barely sticky tape across the fabric that is your reality. We know we matter. We know they love us. But when they don't say it (I have never received the words "I love you" from Will) and they struggle heavily, it doesn't feel like it.
Anything that is out of the ordinary schedule is cause for more difficulty for our neurodiverse kids too. With four of them to celebrate, Leigh and I rarely do anything for us. Four out of sorts times is more than enough more each year. That's fine. We have a lot of life to live and lots of opportunities to celebrate each other and our kids that aren't scheduled times.
I challenge you struggling moms who feel like your kids don't care. Find little bits in your daily lives where your kids shower you with love. The hugs or smirks or giggles. The "I want to show you what I made/colored/drew/did/built"! Maybe you can feel my hugs through those moments. Maybe you can feel the love and warmth of birthday wishes from those far and wide. I am choosing to embrace them as they are intended. SO, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!