To the mom with the kid who struggles.

I see you.

I see you emotionally exhausted when you arrive to work, feeling like you’ve ran a marathon by 8:00 a.m. Your child stomped out of bed and just by the sound of their feet hitting the floor you knew right away it was going to be a struggle. Between the arguing and the negotiating and sometimes the physical act of getting them into the car, you pray as they walk into the school doors that they remember how much they are loved, that you are their biggest cheerleader and only want what’s best for them.

I see you sigh and go through the motions when you hear Betty’s daughter is loving dance this year or how Julia’s son won an award for his robotics competition.

Because honestly, as much as you’re happy for them, you secretly wish they knew what it’s like to have a child who struggles. Deep down you’ve already grieved the life that you once envisioned for that perfect child. The popular, generous, kind soul that takes piano lessons, is always picked first at recess, and has birthday party invites galore. Quite frankly, that’s not your kid. They’re creative and sensitive and have a heart of gold, but they also struggle emotionally and can’t navigate the choppy waters of a school’s social scene and are in the Resource Room more than their own classroom.

I see you look at the clock and visualize which class your child is in at the moment and say an extra prayer for the teacher because you know having your child in their room is a challenge. Or you know it’s almost recess and unstructured playtime is a haven for hurt feelings and emotional rampage, which only leads to meltdowns and physical outbursts.

I see your anxiety peak when the school’s number shows up on the Caller ID and you close your eyes and brace yourself for what’s to come after you answer the phone. That feeling of shame and despair of having “that kid” whose phone number the Assistant Principal has on speed dial. The hopelessness that every discipline technique you try, it feels as if it’s not getting through to your kid.

I see you navigate each night differently, because you never know what version of your child you’re going to have once you get home. Balancing homework, supper, limited screen time, and night activities like it’s your second job. Wishing it was easier and not so damn lonely because it feels as if you’re suffering alone.

I see you try to give your other kids just as much love and attention, all while hoping they don’t perceive you favoring their sibling just because they require more hands-on attention. The special winks and whispers and inside jokes you steal towards them, because you’re desperately trying to show them just how special they are and that you see them; you truly see them for who they are.

I see you crash at the end of the night, restless, full of worry, wondering if you’re doing the best for your child. The internal debate whether medication will help or hinder their behaviors, since the umpteenth other natural remedies aren’t working. Researching new ways to be their advocate to ensure their success in life. Going back and forth with your spouse if you’ve made the right decision and how else you could possibly show up for your child so they don’t fall through the cracks of a broken system. Then falling into a fitful sleep only just to do it all again tomorrow.

I see you feeling invisible, broken even.  Not being able to fix the crater-sized hole in your heart caused by heartache and stress.  Always behind the scenes, making sure everyone is taken care of before you.  Snapping the photos, trying to capture the good throughout the hard because you see it, more often than not.  The good that your child brings to the world in their unique way and your greatest joy is to share that with the world instead of what they see through a distorted lens of their struggles.

Mama, I see you.

I see you because I am you.

I wasn’t qualified to wade deep into the waters of mental health or IEPs or any of the five hundred thousand ways I should parent my child. I wasn’t qualified to constantly tread water as the waves kept crashing down as we try to find our way to shore, desperately grasping for a life preserver that’s still too far out of reach. 

But that’s the funny thing about it. 

Those little loves didn’t chose us to be their mama because we were qualified.

They chose us because they knew we would hold their hands and heart to the depths of the ocean and back again.