'I'm not cut out for this...'
‘I’m not cut out for this’ I thought. ‘The universe has got the wrong person. I’m just not up to the job.’ This was a really pivotal moment for me. To say I had had a tough year was an understatement. It had been the most intense experience of my life that brought me to my knees so many times I’d lost count. And yet I was still on this planet, breathing in and out, and that meant there must be some hope, right?
There were 3 main headline events from the previous 12 months of my life. The first was my third child being born with Down Syndrome. He had been so unwell when he was born that the Down Syndrome paled into insignificance, and yet it was still a massive learning curve, and brought a whole host of emotions including confusion, grief, joy, fear, uncertainty, more fear and overwhelm.
Just 10 weeks later my second headline of that year occurred as my partner passed away suddenly, turning my already tumultuous world completely upside down. The shock and the grief were relentless and pierced every aspect of my life. Becoming a single parent overnight and supporting everyone’s needs was an extreme experience. Yet life had still another twist for me.
My eldest daughter really struggled with the loss of her step-Dad. It was heartbreaking to watch her drop off the edge of a cliff, her world completely falling apart. It felt clear to me there was more than grief in the mix and within a few months I was facing confirmation that my daughter is autistic.
I couldn’t see how I was going to manage, on my own with 3 children, 2 with different disabilities. Parenting my daughter felt like trying to raise a dragon, while my youngest was needing physio and specially adapted equipment in order to learn how to sit.
I decided that if our family was going to survive, I was going to need to step up and grow in ways I couldn’t even imagine at that point. I started to take excellent care of myself, knowing that I needed to build physical and emotional muscles so that our whole family could flourish. Breath by panic-stricken breath, step by painful step, I began to move forward. I prioritised my nutrition and exercise. I learned as much as I could about Down Syndrome and Autism, with audiobooks as I breastfed, and courses alongside other parents. There was a lot of practical support regarding behaviour and sign language. Yet the bit I felt was missing was the emotional support. Where do I go with my feelings about all this?
I decided to put myself through my own intensive healing process. I got a counsellor, developed my own creative healing tools and retrained in rapid change therapy after 15 years of being an executive coach. After 3 years of focusing on me and the kids, I started supporting parents with unique kids with their emotional journey. It has been an incredible experience.
I know how tough it can be. I also know we parents can grow into the role, learn hints and tips to help with the practical aspects, and heal ourselves so that we can better support our incredible kids.
I am taking some time to do some research with parents to make sure the support I offer is as helpful as possible. Are you are parent with a child who experiences the world differently? If you are, I would really appreciate you taking a minute to let me know what is important to you by filling in the survey below. If you are not a parent of a unique child yourself, perhaps you can forward this to someone you know who is:
My vision is for parents to feel strong, confident and able to support their unique kids whatever is going on, and for kids to flourish as a result. This is life changing for the parents who take part in 1-2-1 and group sessions, and every parent’s journey contributes to stronger, more inclusive community, which changes the world!
Thank you for reading and get in touch if you’d like to chat further about any of this further!