Until I had a child with anxiety issues, I had no idea what kind of challenges it could present. Now, I am getting an education. Every day, my daughter struggles with some thing. Changes in routine, so easily adapted to by most people, cause intense trauma and panic attacks for my precious little one. Issues with clothing, socks, shoes, turtle neck sweaters, even where the seatbelt hits her on the neck can cause an overwhelming sense of panic.
Today, we are heading out to find a Christmas tree. Anticipating the anxiety such an unfamiliar adventure may cause, I've been preparing my sweet daughter. And, I have purchased clothing intended to make the layering experience as painless as possible. No way could I have anticipated all the ways the additional layers of clothing would cause issues. Consequently, what was hoped to be a fun, entertaining, bonding experience has been wrought with anxiety, tears, meltdowns (hers, not ine), and frustration (mine, not hers) over the helplessness of the situation.
Finally, over an hour after the process of dressing began, we are heading to the car. My little anxious girl is properly attired (with a different coat, no sweater, and her brother's boots) and getting buckled into her seat. My youngest son, who also struggles with anxiety and sensory issues (as well as thermoregulation issues, which means he easily gets too hot or too cold) has adjusted to his snow pants and boots, and we are ready to go.
The only problem is, I'm worn out! I don't want to go cut a Christmas tree (a tradition dating back more than 18 years). I want to go find a quiet spot where I can sip tea and read a really good book, for a very long time.
When I think of what I have taken for granted with my neuro-typical children, and what challenges lie ahead with my two youngest, I'm incredibly thankful for friends and family who will walk this journey with me. Life isn't so simple anymore, and at times I wonder if I'm going to be able to find a new normal, but at least I'm not alone in the process.