That's what the therapist for my ten year-old told me tonight, when I was hemming and hawing over whether it was too much for me to ask the school for certain provisions to accommodate my anxious, spicy kid. She said, "I know you hesitate to make waves when it comes to your own needs," (she's my therapist, too), "but when it comes to your kid, you have to just demand what they need."
Basically, my kid needs me to not be an apologetic weenie who's accommodating to everyone else in the world before us. I need to just do the thing.
How many times as a parent have I had to be braver than I am? Stronger? More resilient?
In this case, it's butting up against my fear of taking up too much space and needing too much. Who am I to...Do I really need...Couldn't I just...But others need it more/have it worse...etc, etc. Weird how in my mind, I'd be a ferocious mama bear if my kid was physically threatened, but when they need me to just be a little bit assertive to a school administrator, I want to stay in my cave and write a sternly-worded letter.
Also, the special needs my kid has are mental, not physical. I'm not needing to petition the school for a wheelchair ramp or anything (sometimes I wonder if I would have the stones to do that, or if I would just show up to carry them over thresholds or expect them to carry themselves). Just like me, they deal with anxiety and emotional dysregulation. So, my own shame about not being a perfect specimen of emotional stability is braided into this, too. AND since we're talking little kids here, their mental illness shows up as problematic, disruptive behavior. And because I was (am) an obedient and skittish rule-following, people-pleasing girl, I want to apologize constantly to EVERYONE about my kid.
And that's bullshit.
I was so grateful for the therapist telling me I had a right to be upset and, in fact, my kid needed me to be. My kid deserves better than what the school is giving, not the other way around. They need me to be THEIR advocate, not the school's.
It makes me aware of how often have I advocated for my employer over myself, my spouse or family or friends over myself...
I wish I'd learned these lessons a long time ago for my own sake, but I'm learning them for my kid, now. Better late than never.
I'll be a jerk in the name of love.