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  • Posted May 6, 2019

When Your Cup Runneth Over

I’ve heard being a parent of a child with a disability compared to trying to pour from an empty cup; but for me the opposite has always felt true – I’ve often felt overwhelmed, as if I have no room left in my cup. It’s seldom “do I have enough energy”, instead it’s “what do I tackle first?”. And, although I should know better – after all I help others in similar positions identify solutions and prioritize – it seldom seems so clear cut when I’m living it.

I’ve learned over the years it’s critical to find others who are willing to “share the load” – not necessarily do something for me, but at least understand where I am coming from enough to not only offer insight and ideas, but push back when my immediate reaction is why something won’t work (scarcity is a brutal mindset).

All too often (or so it seems) everything hits at once, hence my analogy to a cup running over. I picture a cup with a red liquid (my energy) and each new demand (clear liquid) added dilutes the red in my cup – eventually, if I’m not careful, the red will disappear. By reaching out to others I add more red; this is why I have a housekeeper and landscaper, because these are (2) less things I have to think about.

I’ve experienced more support than I ever expected from the staff of Frederick County’s SUCCESS program, not that his previous experiences in Montgomery County weren’t positive; but Frederick MD has taken it to a whole new level. Similarly, I’ve had very positive experiences with Frederick’s DORS – a complete 180 from me chasing after DORS in Montgomery County (or so it felt) to no avail. My son will have a job this summer, unpaid, but so critical to develop his confidence and skills.

There is a point to all these ramblings, no matter which analogy you use being a parent of a child with a disability is often overwhelming and exhausting. Speaking for myself, it’s very difficult to trust others or have confidence they will understand your child – and I think we can all probably point to at least one instance where our concerns were validated. We can’t give up, shouldering forward on our own will only wear us down – and I can’t think of anything worse than not being there for my son.

Find your network/tribe/supports – they are out there, and, as I’ve found, may be in totally unexpected places. Don’t try to do this alone, I think moms may be better at this than dads; but being a dad that’s the only perspective I have and I’m more than willing to admit I could be wrong. Accept offers of help, don’t let pride get in your way. And if (when) the help isn’t exactly what you need speak up (gently), don’t just think to yourself “this is why I do things myself” (yes, this is self-talk for me too).