Wednesday, February 24, 2016

On Looking Good

I sit down with yet another stack of paperwork, and a tear slips down my cheek.  I've already been to three appointments with my children today, one of which brought yet another diagnosis, and I just don't feel like I can do it anymore.

But we don't look like we're falling apart.  In fact, I hear at every turn that we look so good.  And I am thankful.  I shudder to think how overwhelming this would all be if Pip weren't at a baseline.   However, I'm apparently good at unintentionally looking more together than I actually am, which makes answering questions like "how are you?" feel like a huge dilemma.

When I'm asked how I am, there are two options before me.  I can go with "fine," like the majority of good Americans, and people can take from that what they will, or I can answer honestly with "tired," "overwhelmed," "scared," or whatever is most appropriate at the time.  Then I get to watch the listener wrestle with the obvious contradiction between how I look and what I just said. 

Life as a special needs mom is a unique kind of exhausting.  I read once that it isn't as easy as we make it look, and that sounds so....conceited.  However, I really believe it's true.  There's a lot that happens behind the scenes that nobody sees.  And quite frankly, when we aren't looking "good," we're so far beyond good we aren't out--unless we're at the hospital or some such.

We've adapted to tired, and overwhelmed, and just plain so exhausted we can't see past our tears.  I try to remember that all of the best intentions are being laid forth when I'm told I look "good."  That it doesn't invalidate anything that I'm feeling.  But I wonder if I'm this exhausted and feel like I'm accomplishing nothing, when will I ever do anything that matters?  I see other special needs moms being support brokers for other special needs families.  They're working a job.  Or getting another degree.  Or volunteering for church ministries.

I'm not doing any of that.  I'm surviving.  On minute, one hour, one day at a time.  From where I sit, this doesn't feel good.  It feels like failure.

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