To the Special Needs Mom: I Give You Permission To Be Weak

This is the confession of a special needs mom of three children on the spectrum who is speaking not for all moms with special needs children, but as a mom who has children with special needs.

And today I confess that I no longer want to be strong.

Every morning I wake up, say a gratitude prayer, text my daily intention to my accountability group, look over my calendar, and begin my day. What do I have on the calendar today? Oh yes: behavioral, speech, occupational therapy, homework, a call with a social worker, laundry, dinner, and a scheduled connection time with my husband. Yes, you read right. I have to schedule alone time with my husband otherwise it won’t happen. Our family’s schedule is pretty jammed packed, and if I don’t keep a tight ship, the boat will disconnect from the moor and free flow to never be seen.

I’m not complaining or do I have a victim-poor me mentality. I wholeheartedly love my family and choose this life. But sometimes I wish I didn’t have so much responsibility. With responsibility comes strength, and I have to be strong for everyone. I have to be strong during school IEP meetings. I have to be strong during behavioral tantrums and rage attacks during ABA therapies. I have to be strong at sticking to schedules and following through even when I’m exhausted from a long day. I have to be strong all the time.

I did try changing my vocabulary from “I HAVE TO” to “I GET TO” because it has a different vibrational feeling and because Motivational Guru Tony Robbins said so. This simple tool works often since “I have to” makes me feel whiney and “I get to” makes me feel empowered. But if I’m honest this only lasts a few hours, and I forget all about my word swaps when I hear yelling  or see tears of frustration running down my child’s face. Being strong takes a lot of work.

But you know what takes more work?

Constantly sparring with my emotions as if we’re both on the mat, trying to see who has a better reaction time.  

Holding in that I am not always strong has allowed me to surrender and be honest with myself.  And if I can’t be honest with myself, then who can I be honest with?

So, today I share this confession that I am not strong. I don’t have it under control and that I cry at an IEP meetings; especially when my child’s teacher reminds me how far back educationally my daughter is. Most days I’m also stressed and want to hide in the bathroom when my other daughter is raging at her therapist. Other days I want to yell at the person who cut me off on the freeway as I play Uber driver form my son. But most importantly, I confess that I’m human and that I have feelings.Admitting that I am weak has been healing, almost therapeutic. Once I was honest with myself, I was able to surrender the feeling of guilt. I no longer feel guilty for feeling; I feel the opposite – strength. In addition, I’ve received the gift of endless sitter support from family. Now if I could learn to receive, life would be near perfect.

What do you think?
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Karen Cervantes Jimenez

Karen Cervantes Jimenez

Karen Cervantes Jimenez a grant writer, storyteller, and advocate of the physical and social environment. She believes everyone is unique and that by sharing their personal stories, they can make a difference in education. She is an LAUSD and CalState University of Northridge alumna. In addition, she is an Autism Awareness and Emotional Intelligence advocate. She has three children (who are her inspiration) and lives with her family in Buena Park, CA.

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