My husband and I have been though a lot in our eight years together, almost everything a couple can face. We joke that at least we know we’ll make it to our golden years because if we stayed together through all that’s happened, then nothing can tear us apart. Then came our sensational children.
When I first began writing this piece, we were not in a good place, and I finally understood how having a sick child could separate a couple. I never could wrap my brain around it before because I had not experienced anything like it. It seemed like you would need each other more than ever. Our children are not sick, but they are different and it is challenge we did not expect.
Initially, my husband did not support my feeling that something was wrong with our son. I felt it for a while, but when you have your child’s father telling you “he is fine” or “you just worry too much,” it casts doubt on an otherwise confident mama bear. Hubby accused me of being a hypochondriac. I reminded him that just because I like to read the big Mayo Clinic medical book for fun does not mean I am a hypochondriac. OK, I realize that may not help my case, but the fact remains that I knew something was off was with my son, something not in my head. I am forever grateful I followed my instinct.
After I learned more about SPD and realized that what we thought were emotional issues in our daughter (6) could all be explained perfectly by SPD, he resisted me on this as well. I refused to doubt myself again. I made an appointment for her to be evaluated by an OT. I encouraged hubby to read some of the books I conspicuously left laying around the house and try out new techniques for dealing with her meltdowns. I ping-ponged between being patient with his slow processing of our new life and being mad because I really needed some support from him.
I was torn to pieces because of the interactions between Dad and our daughter. It was now clear to me that so many of the things she did were out of her control, yet he continued to take a rigid authoritarian approach with her. I simply could not handle this. I know he felt I should support his parenting, and I know parents are to be a team, but I just could not be on his team. I shared with him the things I read and explained why she acted as she did. I tried to get him to see that punishing her in that manner was harmful, not helpful. Heck, his tactics hadn’t worked in the 6 years prior, so that alone should have been enough to give a new way a chance! I could not comprehend a lifetime of raising sensational kids with a man who simultaneously denied its existence in his kids and triggered the symptoms. It was more than this stretched-too-thin woman could take!
I have since learned from therapists and friends (some right here on this blog, thanks ladies!) that a lot of Dads have a hard time admitting to a diagnosis. My husband is a fan of stuffing down and denying feelings to begin with, so dealing with his children having issues was probably more than he could take at the time. The thing is, I really needed him. I was scared and confused and broken-hearted and overwhelmed and he was not there for me. I felt completely alone. And it was just too much to handle alone. It was at this time I questioned our future. Thankfully, we did not give up because in the coming weeks he began to emerge from his haze of denial and join this new life with me.
My daughter was diagnosed a few weeks ago and my son several months ago with sensory processing disorder. Dad sees that the therapies, at home and by the professionals, are helping. He has begun to read the books and articles I leave out. He has participated in OT sessions with both kids. I have seen him dig up patience that he never knew was there and try out techniques from OT’s. I thank the good Lord I have a partner in all of this and that he is trying to help our children rather than run from this, because for a while I was not sure. I am nowhere near perfect in all of this, and I do not expect him to be either. We both have good days and bad days, just like our kids. I just need him to be willing to learn and try, together. We are still not always on the same page when it comes to our children, but at least we are finally in the same book.