Magical but hard is a great way to describe the early years of motherhood. So far so familiar, in a beautiful and encouraging article by Kate Takes Five. But unlike other mums I didn't come out the other side. Motherhood is a bit like a tunnel you see, and the special needs tunnel is longer and more convoluted than most. Twenty two years after becoming a mum, my days are still book ended by children. I still stay up with one, and get up to another. So it was bittersweet moment when I acknowledged that I may never leave at all, and may always be on the inside looking out.
When you think of a tunnel, what do you see? Is it a dark, scary place that you can't wait to leave? Or a safe dry comfortable refuge from the world? The special needs tunnel can be both of these.
There are many ways to enter. Sometimes you go in the main door with everyone else, sometimes you start from a different place. But once you've been diverted, your journey changes. You watch as other Mums slowly emerge and start to pick up the threads of the life that they had before - if they want to - while you wait and wonder what will happen. Later on their adult children may leave home while you're still in the tunnel, wiping faces and bums.
Sometimes it can be grim, the lights go dim, or black out completely, leaving you to feel alone in the dark. The walls close in and everything outside seems unreal. All you can see and deal with is right in front of you. And sometimes not even that. There are monsters down here too, mostly in the form of uncaring faceless bureaucracies, that seem determined to grind you down until you lose any hope of seeing daylight again.
Then around a corner the roof falls away and you blink in the sunlight of a good day when everything looks bright and sharp. You spot the dust on the windowsill and actually see the smiles on people's faces, and the deep colours of spring flowers in bloom.
But there is one thing that makes a difference now: wherever you are, if you are on the internet at all, then the special needs community will be with you. Supporting, advising, sharing, hugging. Perhaps you will make it through to the other side, perhaps your children will grow up to be strong and independent, they will be able to live a good life with their differences. Then those families who have already made it will hold out a hand to welcome you, and those still in the tunnel will cheer you on. Because we all hope to join you one day. Out the other side.
Reasons to be Cheerful - Happy Mothering Sunday #R2BC - Lucky me, the girls made me breakfast in bed Happy Thursday friends, How are you doing? I'm having a funny old week. there is nothing particularity wrong...