The Secret Life of a SEN Parent

At home, I am happy. Sure, sometimes I am frustrated. OK, often I am frustrated. Sometimes I am sad. But mostly, with my kids, I am happy. Happy with them. Happy for them. Happy because of them.

But when I am out and about … well, sometimes I am not happy. Often I am unhappy.

Unhappy because people stare. (Why are you feeding that child a drink on a spoon?) Unhappy because people judge. (You child is still in nappies?) Unhappy because they jump to conclusions and feel like sharing these sometimes. (Look at that selfish mother parking in a blue badge space. I bet she borrowed that off her nan because she can’t be bothered to walk 100 yards to get to the supermarket entrance. Seriously. That has been said to me.)

But mostly, as I realised this morning as I waited in line to go to an assembly in which Sissyboo was reciting poetry (proud parent alert!), I am unhappy because I just don’t belong. Other parents at the school know about Boo. I know they know. I know they talk about him. I know many feel sorry for us. (Please don’t, by the way…). But they won’t talk to us about him. He is the nearly-three-year-old cute, bespectacled elephant in the room of every playground chat I have. That’s assuming they ever do talk to me, of course. Usually they don’t.

Parent of disabled child + working mother = social pariah.

But you know, I am big and ugly and all that and can take it. I may feel guilty about almost every aspect of my life but I am settled upon any choices that I am still able to make about it. I am doing my best. For all of us. What more can people ask of me?

No: what I find hardest about all this is just not fitting in. Anywhere.

I’m sorry but I just can’t listen to the terrible tragedies people talk about in their day-to-day lives and force myself to care that much. That their bins haven’t been emptied this week. That their child prodigy has not yet been recognised by their child’s teacher to be the free reader they know they should have been acknowledged to be months ago. That Jeremy Clarkson has been sacked from Top Gear.

Some people wouldn’t know a tragedy if it walked down the street and poked them right in the eye.

I feel mean saying this. I don’t like myself much for thinking it and worry you won’t like me much too. But it’s true. And I realise that what I resent is not so much that my life isn’t such that I can have the luxury to worry about these things, but that I just don’t belong anywhere.

Look, I am lucky. I have a huge number of fabulous friends. A select few and anyone who reads this blog (I am grateful to you all!) know many of the ins and outs of our life. Our triumphs and struggles. The joy and the gut-wrenching pain. But most don’t.

Being the parent of any child is tiring. Being the parent of a disabled child sees you ride a tsunami of exhaustion on an almost daily basis. But what I realised today, stood there doing work emails on my phone because I knew no one wanted to talk to me, was that one of the most exhausting things in my life is rarely being able to be myself. To say the things I want to. Or not say them if I don’t want to. It is exhausting always having to protect other people’s feelings so as not to intrude on their lives.

I’m quite good at acting. It was a career path I nearly followed once upon a time. But when you don’t get paid for it, it’s a lot of effort for not much reward.

But at home I am happy. Happy with my kids. Happy for my kids. Happy because of my kids.

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6 thoughts on “The Secret Life of a SEN Parent

  1. mylittledreamworld1

    If it helps, I am Mum to a 5 year old Daughter – I work so I only pick her up 2 days a week, and drop her off one day. When I do go, nobody ever speaks to me – if feels a bit rubbish as I don’t belong in their little groups either. It’s not a nice place to be sometimes. I imagine that Boo being different only adds to that awkwardness, but it is their issue, not yours. Xxx

    Reply
    1. mrboosmum Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment. And I totally take your point. Playground politics are there regardless of having a child with a disability. It can be a very uncomfortable place for some of us. Very few parents at my daughter’s school work. It’s a small school and, despite being lovely, seems to exist in some time vortex where the real world doesn’t impinge on most people’s lives…

      Reply
  2. Complicated Gorgeousness

    I think this is why I pimp the Gabester out a bit – to humanise him. Make him a person – who brings joy and laughter, Not just that poor little boy in the wheelchair who can’t even hold his own bottle. Mums at the school gate are over rated (I am one) – you know who your real friends are xx

    Reply
    1. mrboosmum Post author

      Pimping the Gabester? That made me laugh. Perhaps we should get him to pimp my Boo. And yep: I know who my real friends are. Even if I have never met some of them in person 😉 x

      Reply
  3. Mummy Zen

    This made me a bit sad to read but seriously, those mums who ignore you or make you feel like you don’t fit in are definitely not worth your time anyway. Focus on the real friends who care and take an interest in you and your family, and forget anyone else – you don’t need them! xx

    Reply

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