Too Familiar

Doesn’t all of this feel oddly familiar to you?

So terrified of the future.

Haven’t you felt that before? The fear of the unknown?

Continual anxiety caused by the ultimate invisible boogey man we call… time. When will this change? How long will this last? When will this get better?

Almost too familiar.

So many questions but no one has concrete answers.

Actually, let me rephrase.

No one has answers that make sense to my non-expert brain.

Information is flooding in fast but it is all so confusing and contradictory depending on the channel you land on when playing remote roulette.

The internet is messing with your head.

Oh, remember that?

Remember how mean Google was when you needed help and answers more than ever before? Ugh, so, so mean.

Isolated at home. Isolated from the world.

All of a sudden you can’t do regular stuff like regular people. You can’t go to sit down restaurants or Chick Fil A or the park or a friend’s BBQ and every once in a while you get a call from a friend or family member and you fake it. “Hey girl! Yes! Oh we are all doing so great! Just, you know, resting up.”

Uh huh… resting.

Remember that isolation?

Isolated also from relationships.

Remember that feeling? Maybe you’re still feeling it?

Remember being so emotionally invested in someone you love so deeply but the physical connection, the eye contact, the warm hugs, all missing. All too problematic for so many reasons that are out of your control.

Too familiar.

Oh hey and remember that unbelievably, crushing feeling of responsibility for another person’s life?

Are you feeling that again? This time for multiple lives?

It’s the heavy feeling on your chest and head that if you don’t do it… no one will. No really. NO. ONE. WILL.

The first time you felt this weight was probably when you became a momma for the first time and the super delusional hospital staff actually let you take a human being the size of your arm home with you… like to keep ALIVE.

Bless their hearts.

Then quickly came the responsibility of helping, dressing, cleaning, guiding, watching, bathing, feeding, supervising, teaching, planning, advocating for a child with special needs, forever. But then it got better, then it didn’t, then the months were great, but the next ones were worse and round and round we go.

Now for real for real you are back to where you started but now on top of all you do already, you need to feed these humans EVEN more. Like ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY.

Also, you must learn how to be teacher of the year overnight and make sure you and your children stay active and make sure at least one meal a day is not Cheetos, Lucky Charms, or Spaghetti-Os. Then in the middle of the chaos your 7 year old daughter looks at you lovingly and says, “oh mom so if my house is supposed to be my school now, then dad is the coach and you are like my cafeteria lady… oh and the janitor… wait… and the principal too?”

Just wow. Extraordinary times.

Oh! But wait… think back. Hey momma friend, remember that time you finally threw your hands up and said “ENOUGH! Whatever I am, whatever I give, whatever I say, however I love, however I keep my family clean, however and whatever they eat … if they are breathing and happy … it is freakin enough.”

Yup.

Remember that feeling you got when you decided that it was your own messed up vision of success that was the problem all along? All of your anxiety stemmed from something you allowed social media to dictate for you for so many years.

Success as a mother, success as a wife, success as a caregiver, success as an employee, success as a friend, all those images redefined and retouched with the incredibly beautiful, soft but powerful brush of grace.

Remember?

My mommas, this damn coronavirus disaster has triggered so much inside of me that I was so sure I overcame years ago.

Maybe this is happening to you too.

It took me a whole week to figure out what was going on in my heart and mind and here it is…

This is not new for me.

This is not new for you.

Me and you… we have had more practice than most with fear of the unknown, isolation, weight of responsibility, redefining our worth and value and measuring success against the impossible ruler that is pre-arranged double-filtered social media facades.

This crisis has placed me right back into a space I worked so hard to crawl my way out of. So now I have to crawl out again but this time I can see the nail marks I left behind as I clawed my way out the first time.

But you know what else is not new for us? Me and you… we have learned how to hope even when the metaphoric world is crashing down on us. So even now when the actual, literal world is crashing and cancelling we lean into hope.

You see hope also feels just as familiar because you have practiced that too. Finding joy in a dumpster fire of your life is your superpower. We do that best. We know from experience that no matter how bleak a situation seems we will persist. We always do.

It’s just time to put practice into action.

For me, I’m finding joy in going sans makeup and avoiding heated hair tools for an unprecedented amount of days in a row.

I’m finding strength from reading books and listening to podcasts and learning from people way, way smarter than me.

I’m completing my stress cycle by ugly crying at the videos of Brazil singing and worshiping together from their balconies. (If you have not seen these videos… please Google this NOW… you won’t regret it.)

I’m finding comfort by belly laughing at great memes because there is a fine line between humor and pain and I am sitting down crisscross applesauce, full of hope, right on top of that line.

I’m finding joy in what’s to come and anticipating how much more I will appreciate a firm hand shake sandwich, a warm tight hug from a momma I just met, a pool party with the ones that have my back no matter what, same day HEB curbside where 25 of my 27 items are not “unavailable”, dropping ALL my kids off at school at 7am and … eggs.

If autism gifted me unique perspective and cancer gifted me a sense of urgency and freedom to dream big, then COVID-19 will gift me undeniable appreciation.

So for now, let’s virtually toast to the future and the days when remembering deodorant and when I showered last also becomes familiar.

Written by, Dr. Lisa Peña

Dr. Lisa Peña is a Today Show Parenting Team contributor and the founder and president of the non profit The M.o.C.h.A.(TM) Tribe which stands for (M)oms (o)f (C)hildren that (h)ave (A)utism.  She is the author behind The M.o.C.h.A. Tribe Diaries which is a website/blog devoted to squashing the idea that autism has a single story and author of a newly published book, “Waiting for the Light Bulb” available on Amazon. Dr. Peña is also the director of an annual wellness retreat for mother’s with special needs children called The Ultimate M.o.C.h.A. Session. She is a rookie author but a professional mother of a child with an incredibly unique subset of autism called, pathological demand avoidance (PDA). Dr. Peña is a proud coach’s wife, a clinical pharmacist, passionate public speaker and a busy mom of three who happily resides in South Padre Island, TX.

For more information, visit www.mochatribediaries.com or follow her on Instagram @mslisapena or on Facebook @mochatribediaries or on Twitter @TheMoChATribeD1.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, join our community, Coop’s Troops, for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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