The phrase many special needs parents get annoyed hearing is “I don’t know how you do it”. We take this as a personal affront. When said, I felt as if they are looking at my child as less. However, deep down, I know that if the situation were reversed, the onlooker would take care of those that need support. I don’t care if it is a child, partner, parent, pet or a fortunate friend, but when someone needs help, there’s no hesitation. When you see someone fall within arms reach, instinctively you try to catch them.
To be truthful, there have been times where I didn’t jump up immediately but took time to muster the energy because I was so worn out. Of course, in an urgent situation, I make a mad dash. Unfortunately, more times than I care to remember, “just when I’m out, they pull me back in”.
Parents do things for their children that they probably wouldn’t do for anyone else. For example, when Jess was eleven, we had taken her to a routine EEG at her neurologist’s office. From there, we decided to go out to dinner rather than deal with commuter traffic. We enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal. Jess ordered baked Ziti which was her favorite. At the time we had no idea this would turn into a memorable evening and that all hell was about to break loose.
As we headed for home, we stopped to walk around the Home Depot Expo so we could work off dinner. Just as we neared a $700 toilet, suddenly Jess was not acting right, she turned pale and I could see that she was about to throw up. She was wearing an oversized t-shirt which I pulled out to catch “dinner”. Of course, we were at the opposite end of the store from the bathroom. We ran down the aisle parting it like the Red Sea. People gawked in horror as I effortlessly caught buckets of upchuck in her shirt. Once in the bathroom, after the third wave of nausea, I realized we would have to make a break for home. While husband drove, I sat in the backseat with my sick little puppy. I had removed her shirt and put my windbreaker over her (thank goodness it was a rainy day) and held the bag making catches like an all-star outfielder. Seriously, I doubt this is something I would do for someone other than my child. Sorry husband, I don’t think I’d do this for you either.
After a month of sleep disturbance, last night was the second in a row where Jess slept through the night. Now I’m going to say “I don’t know how you do it” to the Angelman parents whose kids have long periods where their kids aren’t sleeping. Even though we did experience sleepless nights In the early years, I thought all-nighters were behind me. I’m too old for this. I don’t have the moves like I once did and definitely, don’t have the endurance or stamina. This is why we should have children when we are young.
For you night time warrior parents, I say this with the utmost respect. Please realize that this is a badge of honor and you are being recognized for the great job you are doing. It is not meant to be patronizing.
Finally, the biggest mystery is how Jess can go weeks without much sleep and not be worse for wear the next day while I look like 10 miles of bad road?
Jessie, I don’t know how you do it!