Different layers of the onion...How deep are your layers? - by Christy Smith

Published on 18 April 2023 at 02:34

It was difficult for me to connect with other families at first. The truth is, there are three types of parents: "silent," "everything's so beautiful," and "matter of fact." 

I had no idea I needed a category or that I did not fit in until I found myself on the sidelines. While I shared some similarities with other advocates, I was unable to fully connect. Almost as if there was a secret code of topics that you can't speak of.  I couldn't relate! 

I began my journey as the silent mom until I broke free of isolation. I couldn't take it anymore. I had no idea I would find myself stuck again. Everyone wants to paint their lives and children beautiful! My life was ugly, chaotic, messy, beautiful, sad, scary, and a little bit of everything in between. The problem was that I was so unhappy that I could not find anything beautiful to enjoy. I was dying on the inside, sad, grieving a life I thought I was supposed to live and a life I thought my child would live, and still lonely because I could not relate to everyone else's happiness. 

I believe my entire family is beautiful, even with the chaos and ugly, but the truth is that even perfectly imperfect mothers can not always sit around sipping coffee and talking about all the beauty. Sometimes it just sucks.  All of the things I have to do as a mother can be difficult at times. I got tired of all the appointments, medication management, school IEPs, and programs... It can be inconvenient to have to get up an extra hour every day in order to creatively coach my children out the door for school or appointments while managing fights between kids and preventing meltdowns or whatever else may be a trigger. It is not always beautiful, and I am not the picture-perfect social media mom.  I am "a matter of fact," and I found that many parent advocates are unable or unwilling to go there. 

When I needed a connection or a parent network, I needed the real deal. I needed to normalize and validate the life I was living. I needed ALL of the layers because they were so deep. Those deep layers are hard to find. It is extremely difficult to find information about the effects on your family or the difficulties your children are experiencing... This roller coaster life. The scariest parts are the scarcity of resources and how deplorable our mental health system is for children. I needed someone who did not want to be the beautiful vibrant purple layer of an onion; I needed a connection with families so that we could cut through to the deep layers of the onion and talk about them all. It was not until I could unload all the heavy stuff that I was able to rediscover all the beauty. This bonding promotes healing and growth.