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The wisdom of the ages: happy birthday to me and what I’ve learned over the years of parenting my son…

Posted Nov 28 2011 10:05pm

Yesterday I turned 43. Part of me cringes to write that, although I’m not ashamed of my age or have regrets about paths not taken or anything of the sort. It’s just that it seemed like last year that I graduated high school (although my 25th reunion was the evening after Thanksgiving) and last week that I left college. And having my babies? That was yesterday and the day before. 43 just seems like an awful lot of years to have forgotten, if that makes any sense. I was so busy living that I forgot to stop and make myself be in the moment.

I know I’m probably being over-philosophical. But maybe that comes with my advanced age.

In any case, I feel like, at 43, despite everything I've forgotten and the lines on my face as well as the impending need for reading glasses, at least I finally have a handle on how to be a decent parent to my alphabet-soup of a child. Little J (not so little any more) is an incredibly complex child. And while no child comes with an actual operating manual, most kids’ issues and behaviors can be managed instinctively, or barring that, with the help of a reasonable book on parenting or a good long talk with your best mama friend. But Little J - no parenting book really covers what he needs, and although I have found some AWESOME mama friends on A Mom’s View of ADHD and through Easy to Love but Hard to Raise (both the blogs and the Facebook pages), as well as a couple of other, more recent groups devoted to FASD, my wonderful little muffin’s most accurate diagnosis, he is different. Unique. Like I’m sure all of your little pumpkins are.

Here’s the number one thing I’ve learned about parenting my child. Number one. And I bet a million dollars that although your kid isn’t the same as my kid and he’s also not the same as neighbor kid or your sister’s kid or any kid in his class or any kid you’ll ever meet that my Number One is your Number One as well. It’s this:

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The only way I can be a good parent to my child is if I am emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy FIRST.

Until I have the support I need from my family, or therapists, or a support group ( in person or online), good food, rest, and time and energy to devote to personal care, and have had the space to think through and manage all the stresses of caring for a child with an invisible disability it really doesn’t matter what book I read, what system I implement, how much I love my child, or how much I want things to change - I won’t be able to help my child. Not effectively.

If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.



(picture with great compliments to the hilarious Anne Taintor )


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