Now that the holiday season is in full swing, I am quickly reminded of how difficult they can be. They stir up so many emotions.
As most of you know I have two small children. A four year old daughter and an eight year old son. My son has multiple diagnoses that have caused an overall delay in development. He will be 9 years old next month and is still learning to walk, communicate, basic self-care tasks, etc. My daughter, on the other hand, is “typically developing” (as if there is such a thing, lol). She is very strong-willed but also the sweetest little girl ever.
I bring all of that up to help explain the first thing that makes the holidays hard. The sheer logistics of getting everyone and everything they need in the car and making a long road trip to visit family is tough. Especially doing it all on my own.God forbid anyone need to go to the bathroom. Digging Owen’s wheelchair out of a packed car in the cold when you have to pee is pretty much torture. Haha! Going through all of this takes some of the fun out of visiting family.
Another part of the holidays that’s tough for us special needs parents is being around all of the other kids in the family. You can’t stop yourself from comparing. You deal with the fact that a lot of your family isn’t sure how to interact with your child. It can be awkward and a little heartbreaking. There are children’s programs at school. While I love to see how excited Owen gets singing with all of his classmates, I still notice the looks my kid is getting because he isn’t doing what he is “supposed” to.
Then there is being single St. Louis transplant during the holidays. I’m here in the city alone. Three years ago was the first time I spent a holiday without family. I felt very isolated. You get invited to fun parties that are usually filled with lots of couples. While I still have fun, it’s hard not to feel lonely when it’s right there in your face.
I know my struggles are probably different than yours. But I think we all struggle during the holidays. Maybe you are remembering friends or family you have lost. Maybe you are setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and causing stress.
My goal of this post wasn’t to depress all of you. I wanted to talk about how I am working hard to battle these emotions.
Set yourself up to be successful. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Don’t over commit. Don’t think you have to buy that super expensive gift for your kid/spouse. We chose to stay home on Thanksgiving Day this year. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but my goal was to enjoy my time off with my kids. Making a long car trip would have made that very difficult.
Appreciate things for what they are. Don’t compare! I really struggle with this one. I work hard on this every single day. The first step is being aware you are doing it and of what feelings it causes. When I catch myself doing it I remind myself of my goal and pick one thing I appreciate about the way things are and focus on that. Practice, practice, practice. And don’t get mad at yourself when you slip into old ways. Just remind yourself of your goals and re-focus.
I know the holidays are hard. Remember what’s important. Stay positive. ❤️