I have a friend that is struggling right now. Struggling like we all do from time to time. A crisis of life -- of where we are going, of why we are on the path we are on, of how to find balance. It is a deep thing to deal with.
That said, I also find that as special needs parents these types of personal struggles are usually a sign of growth. Personal growth that says, "Wait. What about me? Is this the way I want my life to go?" And sometimes, we need to hit 'refresh' on our brains.
Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, it is our perspectives that need changing more than our lives. It is one of those "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" things. Don't decide you need a new job, or a new husband, or a new house -- when what you might need is less of a physical change and more of a mental one.
And I thought, why not share that with all of my 'friends'? Who knows what you all are going through -- but someone might just need this advice right now.
So, here is the letter (modified slightly) that I wrote one of my best girlfriends -- one that has special kiddos just like us.
Unsolicited advice – because I care.
Here is what works for me when I am feeling like things are out of control, disproportionate or that my marriage is bound to buckle under our current stress:
Plan something fun. Sounds too easy, but it is really a mind change. When I allow myself to change the thought process from being stuck in day-to-day life to thinking of something fun – the thinking alone is a vacation (if the activity doesn’t happen, I get the high of thinking of this new cool idea for days or weeks!). Remembering myself as a woman who likes to go wine tasting, go shopping with friends, tour the market, or shoot pool and drink a beer with my husband is a GOOD MENTAL break.
Do something. I think adventure is good for the soul. Travel, even just being a tourist in my own city, gives room for me to have new experiences that are just for adults (no kids!) and doing them with my husband means that we have new memories to hold onto. That is the key to romance – constantly creating new experiences to bond you together.
Say “SCREW THE ROUTINE!”. I don’t advocate for this with everyone – simply because this is a calculated risk. But sometimes, sometimes I feel just bound by routine and suffocated by what I can’t do. So, I buck the system. We all want to rebel. So I do. Now mind you that is probably just taking the boys to ice cream at bedtime, but you know what, the kids remember that and so do I – and yet I am the only one that remembers the days of chaos as a result, but whatever. LOL
Get out of your comfort zone. Do something you would NEVER do. Cut your hair short, take a Zumba class (I have and it is HYSTERICAL), try sushi, learn to paint -- whatever speaks to your soul. Challenge yourself in a new arena -- one far removed from your 'mommy life'. Reinventing yourself is good for your confidence and it will remind your hubby of the girl he married -- the younger, less stressed, less controlling, less "OMG DON'T DO THAT WITH THE KIDS!" version of you -- remember her?
Take a weekend break. Go on vacation – with the kids – for the weekend. Yes, it will have problems, but who cares? You and your kids need a mental vacation and there is nothing better than a night at a local hotel with delivered pizza and indoor swimming! Your kids won't meltdown too much. I promise.
Leave the kids with your husband. They aren’t going to die. I know you are worried that your hubby won’t parent the same way you do, that he will be short, or mean, or punish what doesn’t need to be punished – but those are YOUR hang ups. Our kids need to learn to function with different people – people that won’t always understand them, or simplify their life to the point that their mom does. They will be OK. Technically, they will be better for it. And you DESERVE to get away. Period.
My last piece of advice; use the above advice. This isn’t just about balance, or parenting, or marriage, or kids, or whether or not you should be working – this is about a rut that you are in. That is what this about. Freedom – the road less traveled - the what ifs or the could've beens. You don’t have to change everything to have a renewed sense of life; small things can make a huge difference in your mental/emotional stability and remember, as my hubby likes to say, The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it is just another shade of brown. And I hate to say it, but he's right. It is always better to have your problems than someone else's -- because you have the best chance of solving yours.
Now, here is my mother’s advice and I will let you go: It is always better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do.
So, make a plan girl – get out – do something! You will feel better, your hubby and you will feel happier together and your kiddos will think they hit the lotto when they have two super happy parents!
Hope you all get a mental break -- if not a full blown adventure of a a weekend -- and soon.
And since I have been happily quoting cliches and my relatives, I will leave you with a quote from the Jimmy Buffet song:
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
It's these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane
Now where's my margarita?
Photo: Mexico. Matthew running along the beach -- so dreamy, his feet don't even touch the ground. Just thinking of our time there is a mental vacation. So much so, that we are planning a Disney Cruise to Mexico this winter. I am a rebel like that.