When I grew up, I wanted to be a Mommy like the ones I’d seen on TV. The ones with the loving children who got along. The ones who wore a string of pearls while fixing meals from scratch. The ones whose biggest parenting problems were easily solved within half an hour and whose houses always looked super-clean.

Well, I grew up. And became a Mom whose family bears little resemblence to the fictional ones I’d dreamed of. Number one, I don’t own any pearls. Number two, I’m a working Mom and therefore have no time or energy to cook from scratch on a regular basis. And Number Three, my parenting problems are bigger than I’d ever dreamed I could possibly face.

My first born stopped growing while still in the womb. Growth and developmental issues followed while my guilt grew. She was diagnosed with Cornelia de Lange syndrome before her second birthday. We started an intense schedule of early intervention and therapy while trying to maintain a sense of normal for her younger brother. Then, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and had zero energy to help her. Needless to say, the next ten years were full of their own adventures.

Parenting doesn’t fit into a nice, neat, television-inspired box. Things don’t go as expected. Not to mention the short ones in the house have minds of their own and the teenagers tend to leave tornado-like disasters in their wake.

What’s a parent to do? Accept that the fictional plan was doomed to fail from the beginning. Then, assess what I’ve been given and develop a new plan to turn the unexpected into something uniquely mine.

That’s the motivation behind my new book, Making Lemonade: Parents Transforming Special Needs. To share the stories of other families who adjusted to their new realities as a way to encourage other parents in their journeys.

What about you? What did you expect parenting to be like? How has the reality of parenting been different?

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