“Marriage and parenting are two of the best and most difficult things you’ll ever do.” – Ryan Haack
Yeah, I quoted myself.
I had a great conversation with a friend the other day that made me think about this. He and his wife have a little guy with one hand and right now, they’re at different points on their journey of comfortability with it. They both love him beyond measure and neither are worried about HIS abilities, but one of them is more concerned about how others are going to interact/treat him than the other. And that’s made for some challenging conversations and situations.
I have to imagine this is incredibly common for parents of kids who have more/different needs. In fact, statistically, the divorce rate is higher for couples who are parents of a “special needs” child, so it’s definitely not something to ignore. I know it was challenging for my own parents. According to them, my mom was comfortable with my arm basically from day one, but it took a little while for my dad to get there. I remember my dad telling me that his mom, my grandma, essentially took me away from him in the hospital after I was born and told him, “Calvin, relax. Go take a walk. Everything is going to be fine. Ryan’s going to be great.” Thanks, grandma!
I also remember my dad telling me how difficult it was for him to take me to the park/grocery store/out in public when I was a baby because he was acutely aware of all the staring. “I’d see a little old lady staring at you with pity in her eyes and I’d look back at her like, ‘You wanna fight?!'” he told me. He was fiercely protective and I’m sure he perceived things that weren’t really there sometimes because his senses were so heightened. But that was his experience and what he needed to go through! Eventually he got to a point where it didn’t bother him anymore.
So, what’s my advice? I guess I’d view these more as my thoughts than advice.
I think good communication is key. This goes for anything, really, but especially in a marriage. And even more so when there are additional challenges! If good, clear communication is a challenge, enlist the help of a professional! I know that can be scary and somewhat expensive, but I really think it’s worth it. A third-party professional can help you see and understand yourself and your partner in ways that you can’t/wouldn’t on your own. It can be really difficult, but is ultimately SO good.
I think patience is also key. Maybe you have a kid with one hand and you don’t think twice about it, but your spouse always seems to be sad or upset or worried and it’s driving you nuts. Maybe you’re the one who is worried and you think your spouse doesn’t care at all and it infuriates you! Honestly, I think that’s all pretty normal. That’s why it’s so important to have that foundation of trust, grace, patience and clear communication. It’s so important to reiterate constantly that we’re on the same team so that when these situations come up, it’s not a “me against you” situation, but rather a “how do we best get through this together?” situation.
Ultimately – and I say this ALL the time – all we can do is our best, right? There’s no one right way to parent, but I think there are things that can help more than hurt, so I say, let’s try to do more of that, ya know? Love our kids and love each other. We all make mistakes, but as long as we’re loving each other through them, I think we’ll be ok.
I’m going to try to write more often, so please let me know if this is helpful. And ask me any questions you have!
Also, please share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!