How I Respond When Someone Says, 'I Don't Know How You Do It'
"I don't know how you do it."
Special-needs parents, raise your hand if this a sentiment you hear often.
I hear it a lot.
And I attempt a charming joke, "Not very well, that's how I do it."
Small, calculated chuckles abound for five seconds making my conversation partner and I both feel good.
But then the laughter dies, and I look away.
I don't think the other person believes me when I say that I am not parenting my kids with special needs very well.
And that is probably my fault because I only show them the good parts of my day. The good parts of my kids. The good parts of my community service. The good parts of me.
As a parent of kids with Down syndrome, I don't feel like I am allowed to talk about the struggles, because that somehow means I don't love being Polly and Evie's mom.
Not true. Struggles and blessings co-exist. Always.
My response as a special needs parent to "I don't know how you do it" is this:
I do it because they are my children.
I do it because I am their mom.
On good days, I get up in the morning and cut my losses and struggles from yesterday (because when you parent a child with special needs, there are usually daily losses and struggles). I look my kids in the eye, breathe out a prayer, hug them, and hold on a while because they are worth it, and our life is blessed.
On hard days, I lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes, and cry over the fact that my my daughter Evangeline doesn't talk, or that Polly hasn't made any real friends yet, and I look my kids in the eye, I breathe out a prayer, hug them and hold on, because they are worth it, and our life is blessed.
I cry because they are my children.
I cry because I am their mom.
Let's be honest.
What parents thinks they are doing a great job parenting their kids, "typical" developing or not?
Who doesn't yell, or flip on the television, or lose themselves in the world of social media for an hour to get away from the high tension and exhaustion from parenting kids (especially during Christmas vacation? Can I get an amen?)?
I'm not saying parenting kids with special needs is always easy.
Some days I don't do it well. That's just the plain truth.
And some days I do better. For that I am grateful to God.
But I am saying that my kids are always worth it.
And that's how I do it, and why I do it.
Just like any other parent who attempts to parent well.
Because they are my children.
And I am their mom.
-- Gillian Marchenko