You Are Still You

Victoria Tkachuk by Victoria Tkachuk Additional Needs

Victoria Tkachuk

Victoria Tkachuk

I'm from the Midwest region of the United States and I have four children, three neurotypical daughters and one son with dyskinetic cerebral palsy....

Ah, parent guilt; the lovely phenomena of feeling there's always something more you could be doing for your kids. I should be teaching them how to play the piano!

I should be washing their two hundred stuffies so they don't get the flu! I should be planning better lunches!

Yes, pondering how to better serve your kids probably means you're a good parent, but it also means you agonize when you take time out for yourself.

I urge you, as a fellow special needs parent, please stop feeling bad about this.

When you don't take time away from your responsibilities to do the things you love, you risk becoming resentful of the little people you're responsible for. That's the last thing any of us want to feel.

Granted, I understand the tendency to put ourselves on the back burner and neglect our interests; when you have a child with complex needs, your wants can seem paltry and insignificant.

You might even feel guilty for having interests at all!

But, please don't feel that way.

Your talents and interests are part of what makes you the unique parent you are. They allow important outlets for your mental and creative health to thrive.

Spending time pursuing your interests refreshes and renews your mind, which in turn helps you nurture your child better.

Fellow parent, you are doing so much for your children. You are feeding, clothing and tucking them into their beds.

You are finding adaptive equipment, activities, and schools where they can feel more comfortable being themselves.

You are educating friends, peers, teachers and, often, strangers about your child's condition(s). You are loving them unconditionally and without abandon.

You are doing all these things without even thinking about it. It has become second nature. That is something to be proud of.

Allowing yourself some time to pursue your chosen recreation does not take away from your ability to parent.

It does not mean you are not doing everything in your power to help your child develop. It simply means you understand that there is a necessary balance to parenthood.

You don't have to take time out every single day or even every week (and it's probably unrealistic anyway).

But do allow yourself some decent stretches of time, apart from your children, for the things you most enjoy doing.

Do you like to make things? Plan a time each month to tackle a small project. Do you like to write? Take time to sit somewhere quiet and jot some thoughts down.

Do you enjoy cooking? Invite some friends over for dinner every couple of months.

You have an amazing child who will grow and thrive.

Don't ever lose sight of that. And, you are still you. Don't lose sight of that either.

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