‘Every day felt daunting. But I had to do what was best for Charley, right?’: Special needs mom urges ‘your mental health matters’

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“’You just have to do what’s best for your child. You got this mama!’

Ever heard those words and think, ‘Nope, I definitely don’t got ‘this?”

There was a season of our life when every single day felt daunting. I was driving Charley to an amazing school for kiddos with special needs, 5 times a week, an hour away from our house. We left the house at 6:30 a.m. and got home 11-12 hours later.

My husband was in an awful UC flare and he was on a really intense, very restrictive diet, so Whitley and I spent our days in town running errands, getting groceries from 3+ different specialty stores, juicing at my sister’s house, packing it all up, and rushing to get Charley from school to therapy and back home.

When I got home, I’d make one meal for Nathan and a separate meal for us. We’d eat dinner, do baths, bedtime, pack lunches, clean up, and do it all again the next day.

I was drowning. Charley was thriving and progressing, but the rest of our family was suffering. My business was getting zero of my attention, my husband was in and out of the hospital, Whitley was craving attention and socialization, and I felt like nothing I was doing was helping anyone but Char. I ended up in counseling and on medication for high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

But I had to do what was best for Charley, and this meant the maximum number of therapies at the best children’s hospital and the best program at the best school. Right?

In the middle of all of this, Charley was diagnosed with Coffin-Siris Syndrome and I was grieving the loss of the life I had planned. After a full semester of living like this, my husband and I made the very difficult decision to take Charley out of school and cut back on therapies. We got really honest and accepted the fact what was BEST for her was not even a little bit good for the rest of us, and we needed to focus on our family as a whole.

Did I feel guilty? You bet.
Was it heartbreaking to walk away from that school and those teachers? Absolutely.
But was it necessary? 100%.

It took a long time for my counselor to convince me I mattered, that my mental health was just as important as Charley’s progress.

I had all of these ideas of what a good mom looked like. A good mom stretched herself thin for the sake of her child. A good mom juggled all the things with a smile on her face and a clean home. A good mom did what was best for her family.

But I was a part of the family…and what we were doing was pushing me into a really dark and scary place. It took a long time, but once I accepted my worth wasn’t found in everything I could do for everyone else, I felt so free.

I matter. I’m important. And so are you.

This is your reminder today you are an important part of your family. Your mental health matters.

Drowning in dishes? Switch to paper plates.

Can’t keep up with the laundry? Buy more underwear and let it pile up a little longer.

Is your schedule overwhelming? Cut back on the extracurriculars…or take a break from therapies. (Yes, I said it.)

Is your child attending the best school but forcing your family into debt? Find something more affordable or send them to public school.

Sometimes doing what’s best for the family as a whole means doing really average things for each individual person. And that is okay.”

Stressed out mom of two puts her mental health first by buying paper plates instead of doing dishes
Courtesy of Madeline Webb

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Madeline Webb of South Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Madeline here:

‘She is the only person I know of with this mutation.’: Mom shares daughter’s journey with rare Coffin-Siris Syndrome, ‘We are the lucky few’

‘I have a daughter with special needs. I don’t have a special needs kid.’: Mom advocates for inclusive language

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