“You are a hysterical mother” That’s what the woman on the other end of the phone told me. Show a vote of hands of mothers in the group
here, who didn’t get this sentence at least once. She was hurt and stunned as we sat down to talk and calm down – mainly on how to forgive ourselves
We deserve to forgive ourselves
When it comes to our kids we’re allowed to be hysterical! We can feel when things aren’t working out. We are allowed to follow up on them with concern. But most importantly, we are allowed to receive help and support, counseling and listening and, for god’s sake, even psychiatric treatment. I told her and explained, that besides to the real concern she feels for the child (whether there the cause is real or imagined) there is someone else, the person who takes care of the child and needs some help herself.
Even if our child is Neurotypical and we’re just hysterical.
On the eve of this Yom Kippur, I want us to first of all be able to forgive ourselves, for not giving ourselves this basic help. That we ignored the difficulty and tucked it in until we couldn’t contain it any more. When we’ve already asked for help, it was only for others. Helping our children begins with helping ourselves first.
Many of us will stand vigilant when our child needs anything, and we will go to war for them, when there’s a real problem. Yet in the same breath, we also drag a trail of immense emotional strain that begins somewhere before our child was born.
Time passes and this stomach that is filled with these feelings accumulates pounds of emotional distress (or in my case literally real pounds – the benefits of emotional eating).
And then something happens that’s hard for us to get up — that’s our crisis point.
It happened to me a week after our neurologist said she thought our third son had autism.
At first I actually felt good. “At least you’re not the hysterical mother,” I said to myself, while patting myself on my shoulder. All these years I’ve said something’s wrong, and here’s the truth.
Then I came home to another day, with my boy in an emotional mess from kindergarten.
A few days later, it came.
A sea of tears and pain, that led me to finally report at the psychiatrist’s office and beg for treatment. The accumulated years of stress since the diagnosis of the elder, the multiple resuscitations I had to perform on two boys, the surgeries, all collapsed into from the fragile pulp crying that was me.
And I started getting treatment…
A place for myself
After a month or two and I started to feel better. I even started swimming a little bit again. I bought some makeup and a nice outfit. I started taking care of myself. Not for them. For the first time for me.
The tears stopped, my concentration got a little better, and the future started to look rosy again. Again I saw where they were progressing or not making progress. I had more the energy to do things.
You can let go too
So if you feel it’s hard, that’s your stomach is full and not just from holiday dinners. Know this, we’re allowed to get help and support even from a psychologist. We’re even allowed (God forbid) to get a pill from a psychiatrist, the kind that’s designed to help us relax.
We’re allowed to go on a date with our partners and do something fun, swim in the pool, dance to music or anything else that will make it easier for our souls.
It’s okay to be hysterical
We’re also allowed to be hysterical parents! Drive that doctor crazy with every little thing, and ask a million questions by e-mail, too. It’s okay to ask everything. Believe me there’s no question even the most delusional I haven’t heard as a nurse in the various departments. Don’t hesitate and ask even if it’s embarrassing believe me we’ve heard it all.
On Yom Kippur we ask for forgiveness from everyone, let’s not forget ourselves this year. All year long we’ve been there for them, explaining, guiding, caring, listening and protecting from the crazy world outside. It’s clear to all of us that the outside world, at least half the time, doesn’t understand our children. Lets forgive ourselves that all this time we’re didn’t always remember to worry about ourselves. But most importantly, once a year we also forgive ourselves just because at the end of the day we’re only human.