Self Care for Parents: Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

We know the drill:  "Parents!  First put on your own oxygen mask!  Before you attempt to assist your child with theirs!"  So why is it so difficult to remember?  Parents of children with Autism (or a similar challenge) usually exhaust themselves into emotional, physical and financial bankruptcy before they are willing to consider self care.  Our marriages end or are in shambles, our children hate us, we have lost our homes or savings, our jobs are neglected, and our doctors...have never seen us before...and we are depressed, anxious, and have forgotten how to enjoy life.  It is time to take care of ourselves first, or we will have no life at all.  It will soon all fade to black, if we don't FIRST put on our own oxygen mask. 

When I got word of a parent's death, I was stunned.  I thought of myself as one of her "supports".  I hadn't seen her in a number of months.  We used to be occassional "walking buddies."  We had since moved to another town.  When I went to her funeral, I knew I would be sad, but I was suprised that I was not able to hold back my tears.  I felt very out of place in my obviously overwhelming expression of grief.  Other family were able to "hold it together."  Why was I grieving so uncontrollably?

I was so sad for her and her children with Aspergers and Autism that she had left behind.  I was also grieving for the collective "we" of all of us as parents with children affected by autism.   It was then and there that I had an ephipany.  I can spend years now kicking myself every time I think of her, because I did not do more for my friend....  Or I could honor her life and death, with a change of heart.  I could put self care at the top of my list of priorities and not feel guilty about doing so.

As parents, our lives are not ordinary.  Many of us are looking ahead to being care providers for our children for the rest of our lives and theirs.  The truth is, we won't be able to care for anyone, unless we make caring for our own quality of life a top priority.  This Blog is devoted to Self Care for Parents who have a son or daughter with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other life challenges.  We understand what other parents are going through.  We need the support of each other and all the positive encouragement we can find.  Parenting a child (of any age) with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a marathon and not a sprint.  Lets be loving and gentle with ourselves and not try to go it alone.

Comments

AutismLoveHope said…
What a wonderful blog you have here! I would have been just as emotional there as well... I fear for the day when I leave may child with ASD behind... it overwhelms me sometimes.... but I can't think about that...I need to continue to prepare him to be as successful as he can in life, and we are praying that we have another (typical) child so that they can be there for him when we are gone....

Anyways, I found you on Twitter (I'm @AutismLoveHope) and my website is www.AutismLoveHope.com -- hope to read more from you! :)
Achieve Beyond said…
We are so excited to see this blog's success! Any blog helping parents with autism we support! We are a pediatric therapy and autism services company and want to let our services be known to families across the United States. We provide physical, speech, occupational and behavioral management services in Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Virginia and California with more states to come. If you are interested in our services please visit our webpage http://wwww.achievebeyondusa.com We wish continued success for this blog!
Rhonda said…
this truly.. compelled me. We're going through a REALLY rough patch and.. this.. I needed to read this. Thank you.
Anonymous said…
I just read the introduction to your blog, and tears are welling in my eyes as I type this. I have a 25 yr. old son with Autism. I would say he's moderate. He has good vocabulary, but it belies his understanding/logic. Looks through the wrong end of the telescope, if you know what I mean. He suffers from SEVERE anxiety, & is on meds for that, as well as depression/OCD. I am so worried about his future. We do have some supports through the state of CA, but with budget cuts . . . We are happy to have him live with us, but I know that we won't live forever (as some in-laws are fond of pointing out). So, I worry about it all the time--mainly, how will he ever adjust to assisted living, when he constantly is fearful that his dad & I will one day want to move into a smaller house, WITH my son, no less? Hates ANY change, which I realize is typical . . . Anyhow, sorry I babbled, lol! Am grateful I found this blog! Hopefully, it's not discontinued, as I see there hasn't been anything current. Thank you! :)
Anonymous said…
I just read the introduction to your blog, and tears are welling in my eyes as I type this. I have a 25 yr. old son with Autism. I would say he's moderate. He has good vocabulary, but it belies his understanding/logic. Looks through the wrong end of the telescope, if you know what I mean. He suffers from SEVERE anxiety, & is on meds for that, as well as depression/OCD. I am so worried about his future. We do have some supports through the state of CA, but with budget cuts . . . We are happy to have him live with us, but I know that we won't live forever (as some in-laws are fond of pointing out). So, I worry about it all the time--mainly, how will he ever adjust to assisted living, when he constantly is fearful that his dad & I will one day want to move into a smaller house, WITH my son, no less? Hates ANY change, which I realize is typical . . . Anyhow, sorry I babbled, lol! Am grateful I found this blog! Hopefully, it's not discontinued, as I see there hasn't been anything current. Thank you! :)
BP Merewether said…
Hi such an amazing resource you are putting together - if we really want to change the culture, we have to start with building amazing new environments for our children.
Thanks

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