One thing I hear a lot - and I’m sure many other special needs moms hear a lot — is “I don’t know how you do it all.” What has become so common and normal for us, seems insurmountable to the non-special needs parents. The truth is, if you were in our shoes, you’d just figure it out, like we do. Every day is different, every day brings new challenges, every day is exhausting, and every day we just figure it out. Sure, we’re hanging on by the skin of our teeth - but we figure it out. There’s no big secret to it, but if I had to name the most effective technique to making it all happen, it’s this: “imperfect action.”
I didn’t coin this term, in fact I heard it on a podcast recently. It described my life perfectly — I wouldn’t get anything done at all if I waited for every little detail to be perfect. This is true in all aspects of life — in work, in parenting, in marriage, and in blogging. It’s probably true in your life, too. Does all the laundry get washed, dried, and folded every day? Do your kids get a bath every night? Do you eat a hearty breakfast every morning? Do you wash, dry, and put away all your dishes everyday? Chances are, your answer to one or more of these questions is “no”, and you are practicing “imperfect action’, just like me and many other people on this planet.
For perfectionists, this doesn’t come so easily. For example, a friend of mine recently reached out to me about starting a blog. She had all these great ideas — but didn’t know how to move forward, didn’t think she could do it. She hadn’t started yet because she didn’t have the perfect plan. My advice was to go for it. You’ve got to start somewhere. Try to get all your ideas flushed out, but know that your work will constantly be evolving as it should be! Your writing should get better, your photos should get more interesting, and your branding should evolve. What seemed perfect on day one, will seem awful on day 200. Take a scroll through my Instagram feed @itsnottoocomplicated. You can see where I started branding my Instagram; It’s no secret. I knew I had an idea and I knew it would grow into what it needed to be. So I just started creating, imperfectly, and here I am today. It will eventually grow into something else, and that’s the beauty of it.
The same applies for special needs parenting (or parenting in general, I just happen to know no different). When your child receives a genetic diagnosis, chances are there could be 50 more diagnosis coming your way in a very short amount of time. Unless you have a doctorate degree in medicine and / or genetics, you have no idea what you are doing, or what the doctors are saying. Does that mean you never will? Absolutely not. You do the best you can with the skills and tools you have at any given moment. As you acquire new knowledge, talk with other special needs parents, and get to know your child better, your parenting will change. You will change. That is the natural course. It’s taken a couple of years to be at peace with this. At first, I would get angry that I didn’t know more, that I was so oblivious to this medical life. I felt so ill-equipped to care for my own child. I was desperate for answers. Then, I figured it out.
There are no right or wrong answers to my parenting questions most of the time. There are “best case scenarios” and “better choices”, but they aren’t always perfect, and they never will be.
If there’s anything that has helped me cope with parenting a special needs child, and learning how to “do it all”, it’s taking imperfect action and being OKAY with it. How do you implement imperfect action in your life and in your parenting?