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Will He Enjoy It?

Melissa Schlemmer by Melissa Schlemmer Additional Needs

Melissa Schlemmer

Melissa Schlemmer

Currently I am trying to juggle life with an infant, 7 year old, and a nearly 5 year old with special needs. Life is all kinds of crazy, but we are...

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit more “mom guilt” than usual. To be honest, I think it’s been hanging on since the beginning of the school year.

I know that we all have the feelings of inadequacies and the occasional second guessing in the backs of our minds.

But for moms of children with special needs I think we can be a little bit harder on ourselves. At least I find this to be true in my circle of friends who have children with exceptional needs.

One thing I really struggle with is including our son. Or rather, not including him.

Our 5 year old can be difficult to take places. There are so many things we have to consider when deciding to bring him along.

What’s the weather like? Is it wheelchair accessible? What time of day is it? Will he be able to see what is going on? Will it be sensory overload?

Is there anywhere to lay him down if he needs a break from his chair? Is it a place where he can hum and “chat” without upsetting others? Is there a quiet place to go if he has a meltdown?

If we have to leave early will this ruin it for his brothers? And the most important question of all….will he enjoy it?

This weighs on my heart every single time we decide that maybe the outing isn’t the best idea for him. He’s part of our family but yet he’s not always part of our family activities. And just saying that makes me feel completely awful.

I want and wish so badly that he could enjoy everything with us but that’s not our reality. There have been far too many times that we’ve had to leave somewhere early, or have upset him so much that the event isn’t even worth it anymore.

He missed his first kindergarten field trip to the pumpkin patch.

It was too chilly and rainy for him to participate. He laid on the floor and watched his favorite show during Thanksgiving dinner. He has a severe oral aversion so just sitting at the table around food creates intense anxiety and worry.

He sat in the car with his dad when we cut down our Christmas tree.

It was cold, windy, and definitely not wheelchair friendly.

There are countless activities that we have to weigh the pros and cons before deciding if we should bring him. Oh how I wish it was easy. I wish we could all pile into the car and enjoy a simple family outing, but it’s never that easy.

I want to bring him and include him in everything we do. And when we don’t, I feel immense guilt. I feel like I’m leaving a piece of my heart behind. I feel incomplete, our family feels incomplete.

But I need to put his feelings before mine.

My feelings of guilt and sadness are not more important than his feelings.

If the activity will cause him too much anxiety it isn’t worth taking him just to ease my guilt. If the activity is something he’ll get absolutely no enjoyment out of it’s not worth putting him through it.

If I’m taking him just because I want to make myself feel better...then that’s not a good enough reason.

I still feel guilty when we decide not to include him. I think that feeling will never go away. It’s not easy to take him everywhere we go, but it’s even harder to leave him home.


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