Musings of a Marfan Mom

Permission to Parent

| 12 Comments

It’s been difficult recently. The Menininho’s tantrums seem never-ending, and sometimes come out of nowhere. He even smacked Mark in the face the other night, which he never does. It’s come to the point I try to avoid taking him anywhere by myself if I don’t have to, which means Mark runs most of the errands after he gets home from work.

The other day I made it to M’s school a little early for pick-up. One of the other mothers approached me and asked how I was: really asked, you know? So at first I gave the standard answer “I’m ok, just a little tired,” but she probed a bit more and I started explaining that M’s behavioral issues have really been wearing me down. I question whether the behavior strategies I’m using are the right ones, or whether I’m somehow “rewarding bratty behavior” as someone last night on one of the forums Mark frequents accused him of doing. And of course this mom understood. She talked about what it’s like to be that family in the store, where people glare at you or even comment about the noise your kid is making. I hate the comments I get that brush it off, like “Oh, all kids at that age throw tantrums; it’s no big deal,” or “I bet your kid doesn’t even have autism” just as much as the glares when M is “having a behavior.” But, while it was somewhat cathartic to be able to vent to someone who truly does understand, it was also a bit depressing facing the reality that this is going to be a long road for our family.

That night I stayed up talking with Mark. “I feel like a terrible mother,” I complained. “I should be the kind of mom who has the pass to the children’s museum and takes her kids there weekly and to playgroup and library time and music classes. I want to be able to do that!”

And then I stopped.

It’s not really about being the kind of mom that I want to be. The purpose of being a mom is to be the kind of mom that my kids need me to be. Right now, M doesn’t need a mom who shuttles him around to lots of different activities; he needs a mom who plays his favorite music, encourages him to use his words, writes out the ABCs for him to label over and over, and helps him navigate a world he doesn’t always understand.

You know what? I felt a whole lot better after I realized that. I needed to give myself permission to parent. I’d still like to remove these challenges from M, and I’m still going to have days I wish I was the mom I’d envisioned before I had kids, but on those hard days I’m going to make a concerted effort to consider the positives. And who knows? Maybe a pass to the children’s museum will be a good goal for us to work towards!

How do you give yourself permission to parent?

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12 Comments

  1. This is such a great post. It really has me thinking. I don’t give myself permission. This is really hard to admit responsibility for, but I think this is part of the reason PPD has hit me so hard again. I’m in the process of recovering. My road to doing that is accepting the mom I am and the mom my kids want me to be instead of the perfect mom I think I want to be

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    marfmom Reply:

    I wish you the best on your road to recovery from PPD. I know I’m not going to be perfect at this giving myself permission thing either, but let’s cheer each other on, shall we? :-)

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  2. Oh, do I ever love this post! What an important concept and idea. And one that we all need to hear- and believe! Thanks for this post- it’s kind of like the kick in the pants that I so needed!

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  3. I too have to regularly give myself permission to be the parent I am to the kids I have, not the parent I think I should be to the kids who behave as they should. Like you, I have physical limitations that affect what I can and can’t do with my kids. And beyond that, there are choices we make related to our interests, our time constraints, etc. For example, in a town where sports are a HUGE deal, the kids do minimal sports. My two younger kids, who do not have any physical disabilities (my oldest child does), do one or two sport seasons a year. That’s enough, more than enough! But you wouldn’t believe how often I question whether I’m somehow failing my kids by not signing them up for swim team in the summer and indoor soccer in the winter and travel teams and all the stuff that our suburban neighbors do. I never did any formal sports as a kid (couldn’t), and I never once regretted that…But do I remember that when I’m beating myself up? No. It’s amazing the silly expectations we put on ourselves, and that others put on us.

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  4. Isn’t it so funny how sometimes we have to take a step back and give ourselves permission to live our own lives in the way that WE need to live them, and not in the way OTHERS expect us too? I’m not a parent of a child with autism, but I do have a chronic illness that has made me have to live my life in the way I need to. This post just resonated with me a lot today, because I have recently had to give myself permission to live my life in a way that was best for me instead of the way other people expect me to and have dealt with some resulting ignorant comments, etc. I think society, myself included, need to spend a lot less time judging others, and a lot more time honoring and respecting other peoples actions and decisions and the place they are in their lives. Anyway, basically I’m just saying that I really appreciated this post, and it made me feel better. :)

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  5. Very good post. You hit the nail on the head. Kids need parents to be there for them, not the other way around. Love you guys.

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  6. If it makes you feel any better, that “perfect mommy” fantasy doesn’t exist. We are all struggling, if we are honest with ourselves. I’m a single parent. My husband (father of my children) is deceased, so there’s no letup. I don’t have someone to walk in at 5:30 I can hand the kids over to so I can take a bubble bath, and haven’t for a long time. I don’t even know what the inside of our town’s museum even looks like anymore. I don’t mean to whine, but I have that same struggle you described above. This is NOT what I imagined my family would look like and I beat myself up on a regular basis over it. I usually come out of it with decent perspective, but this afternoon when my cousin is getting married, I will be miles away trying to put my house back together and helping three kids with homework, paying bills, trying to figure out when I’ll get the grass cut and how, and wondering how to unclog that toilet I’ve been working on for days. June Cleaver is a myth. You just have to do the best YOU are equipped to do with what you have and pray.

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  7. Maya, I wouldn’t discount the “terrible twos” either though. It’s probably a combination of a lot of factors, including the fact that he’s competing for your attention with Baby J.

    Michael used to have MASSIVE tantrums, starting at an extremely young age. I vividly remember one night when he was about 3 1/2, standing in the kitchen, and he was about to get started. I very (unusually) calmly said something like “Michael, please don’t”, and it just clicked for him, and he was over whatever it was he was about to whine for. That was the beginning of the end, but yes, it was a long road.

    Oh, and I was that mom in the grocery store with two incredibly hyperactive and annoying kids. I swear I heard applause when we finally left. Weekly.

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    marfmom Reply:

    Oh, I know the “terrible twos” and having a baby brother are definitely a part of it! However, his whole therapy team agrees that his tantrums go above and beyond what is typical for a child his age. It’s just frustrating when people totally dismiss the autism, as though Mark & I are being helicopter parents or something. I realize it’s not unlike some of the comments my mother got for keeping me out of gym because I have Marfan.

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  8. Maya,
    I had to stop taking Wyatt places by myself for about a year after Charlotte was born. I just could not handle his behaviour and a new baby at the same time. The last straw was when I was chasing him across the park pushing the stroller screaming for him to stop as he ran into the street.
    My mother in law even told us she could not babysit him anymore after a eventfull trip to the fall festival that same year. It was heartbreaking, but motivated me to find out what he needed. He did not have autism, but is very very strong willed and had very poor vision.
    Now, at 10 he is still very strong willed and I am still constantly having to learn and find out what he really needs, but it is easier.
    I hope you are encouraged, and remember that they are always changing and someday you will be able to have the family outings you dream of and much more. This is just what you all need right now :)
    Oh and my MIL started babysitting again after we got his vision treated and he matured a couple years. They have a fantastic relationship :)
    The most importand thing I have learned is to surround ourselvs with people who offer love, encouragment and support and that every family needs to find what works for them.
    Hugs!

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  9. loved this, maya. and i’m pretty sure most people who actually know you think you’re a really incredible mom. fo sho.

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  10. Great post, Maya!

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