Tonight I want us to be honest, life as a SEND parent is complex.
It is full of greater highs than most people can imagine, but it’s also full of bigger lows.
We are the parents found leaping with excitement from the rooftops because our children have managed an activity they love without anxiety rearing it’s ugly head. We are the parents who relish our children’s achievements, like others hoard trophies. And we are the parents who celebrate the small things, knowing that if we can get those right the rest will follow.
But we’re also the parents who lie awake wondering what tomorrow will bring.
We’re the parents who know that life is balanced as if on a tightrope, one false move can make it all come tumbling down.
We’re the parents who when it does, hide our tears to comfort our child. The parents who smooth it over with family and friends. We are the peacemakers, the negotiators, the fixers. We are the ones who put life back on its tightrope so we can all carry on.
And most days we do all of that and more without a second thought. It’s second nature, part of our world.
We juggle appointments with paediatricians and schools, attend speech therapy and carry out sensory diets. We chase phone calls that haven’t been returned, and check the legalities behind decisions that are made.
At first it feels alien, like a world in which we don’t belong. But after a while it too becomes second nature, so much so that we stop to give a hand for those less far along the path than us. Because we know, however sad that might be, that if we and others like us don’t, no one else will.
And we know what it feels like to be there in the hole.
We are the parents of the children who fight their fears everyday, the parents who are prouder than they ever thought they would be of the child sat in front of them.
We are the parents who wish the world was kinder, more forgiving, more accepting of difference. The parents who wish that once, just once the world would give their child the break they need. The parents who would move the earth, the sun and the moon if only they could make their child’s life one little bit easier.
We are the parents who wonder if it’s ok to be sad that life isn’t just a little bit different. We are the parents who love their children to the moon and back. But we are also the ones who fear that life will break them, not all at once, but gradually, imperceptibly, one little thing at a time.
Most days we focus on the positives, we celebrate what we have, what we can do, the achievements of our remarkable children.
But some days, it’s ok to be sad. To curl up in a ball, and wish that the child we love had to struggle a little less to life the life they want to lead.