· special needs,disability,parenting,mental health,thanksgiving

** ATTENTION THIS IS US FANS, SPOILER ALERT **

So if you are a This Is Us fan, and haven’t seen the latest of season 4 on Netflix, I suggest saving this post for a later read. But if you’re continuing to read this post, admit it… you did a 2-day binge, and finished this headlong escape that kept you jumping to the next episode as it wrung you out.

This emotional journey continued to showcase the Pearson family at the forefront, and threaded the lives of strangers with various storylines that unfolded into a feeling-good and feeling-sad journey. But what got me writing this post were my own flashbacks that stemmed from the Baby-Jack storyline. The heavy story of the new parents Kate and Toby, narrated the challenging times for the young parents as they were going through the complicated process of navigating the expected and unexpected surprises of parenting Baby-Jack, who is blind. There was one particular incident that stood out for me early on in the season where Kate and Toby brought Baby-Jack to his first music class. Like any new parent leaving the house for the first time, they loaded their car with everything but the kitchen sink, thinking that they had everything under control to ensure the best experience for their child. When they arrived at the class with the teacher singing, clapping and banging, they quickly realized that Baby-Jack’s unconsolable shrieks were not only the sheer fact that the class wasn’t accommodating for babies who had vision impairments, but Kate and Toby were getting their first experience of the weight of balancing their marriage, parenting, and learning how to be a strong advocate for their son.

In my posts, I have always shared my life openly about my life musings with Petie, Bella, and our family’s daily celebrations and challenges. Life as a special needs parent is tough, and many of my days can feel long, draining, intense, and limiting. This week, Bella had a surgery at SickKids hospital. The purpose of the surgery was to cut out a bone that was fused to her bottom teeth, along with the extraction of other adult teeth due to impaction. I still don’t think there is anything in the world that can prepare a parent to endure the feeling of watching the surgeon wheeling their child on the hospital bed through the double doors. As I watched Bella leave me, I could hardly stay on my feet.

In the waiting room I sat quietly amongst other parents and caregivers, staring attentively at the large screen on the wall that listed each of the children’s initials and their surgery status. I took the next few hours to think about everything going on in my life, and making a list of the changes I absolutely needed to make. Life at that very moment felt so heavy, and to distract my mind from wandering I started scrolling through my IG feed. Then this post got my thumb to stop moving...

I bit my tongue and realized a very big elephant in the closet. ME. I was the elephant. I was the one putting this immeasurable amount of stress on myself. I often find myself diving into the water without a life jacket. Sure, I do awesome at riding those waves every now and then, but over time I am realizing that my mind and body are getting weaker and I can no longer keep myself afloat. Maybe talking about my problems aren’t always as helpful as I think it will be, as it can hurt me even more. It's nice to receive validation from others in the moment of pain or frustration, as this energetic transfer can feel somewhat rewarding at a time when I desperately want to feel better. However, as I sat alone grasping my sweaty palms, I realized that I was setting myself up for more pain and frustration in the future. I want to release this feeling of heaviness.

I don’t have all the answers to my journey of parenting and self love. However I do know that I can start changing the tone of my conversations, where I need to learn how to make connections based on love rather than pain. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and for me this is a reminder that I have control in focusing my attention on the positive. Today I am choosing to speak of my joys as a step to heal feelings of grief and anxiety. Thank you to all our family and friends for sending your positive vibes for Bella this week. Here are some snapshots from the girl who always makes us smile.

After a week of resting at home, Bella is recovering very well. This next picture brings me so much happiness. I have shared Bella’s eating journey in the past, as we are continuing to work hard on teaching her how to eat independently. As I am preparing our family’s thanksgiving dinner by the stove, I look over my shoulder at Bella sitting at the table alone. I see her scooping her rice and drinking her milk, all by her damn self. This is my first time being this far away from the table (10 feet), and this long letting her sit alone to eat independently (10 minutes and counting). Now this is something to be joyful for.

Share your smiles, share your joys, and love the lane you’re in.

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