The 12 steps to being a special parent

More than once on this blog, I have referred to the 12 steps used by people recovering from an addiction.

Now, truth be told, I have never actually been to a meeting, or even read a book about the program.

(not that there's anything wrong with that)

Nope, as is the case with most of the grey mush of trivia that make up my mental hard drive; what I do know I got from American Television shows like Seinfeld, Friends, SATC and The Simpsons, (a little bit) and biographical books.

So while my knowledge is sketchy at best, the bits I knew seemed to fit with what I have experienced as a parent of children with a disability, in my case autism.

Okay, straight away I can see the differences. We didn't choose to have kids with special needs, whereas the addict supposedly chooses to indulge their addiction.

But perhaps I can make this analogy; when you consider that some people can take a drink and only have the one, some people can buy a lotto ticket, or put a few coins in a slot machine and then walk away, some people can take out a store card and only buy the clothes they need, and pay off the full balance every month.

And some people cannot.

Some people have the compulsion that turns an interest in "Wine Tasting" every now and then, into drinking a bottle of vodka before breakfast, everyday,

that takes a little flutter on The Melbourne Cup, and turn it into losing their house, their family and virtually everything they own just to try and "break even" and win it all back,
that takes the decision to apply for a couple of store cards because they need things, then a personal loan to pay off all those cards, only to spend spend SPEND and run up the high interest credit all over again. With nothing to show for it. (ahem)
These are not conscious choices. Whatever the rationale, some people have an addictive nature and succumb. Some people have a weakness that manifests when they are under stress. Whatever.

By the same token most of us didn't choose to become parents of children with a disability.

Yes, there are some angels out there that knowingly adopt or foster children with special needs. Good on yer, my hat is off to you.

The rest of us have this greatness thrust upon us, and it takes us time to grow into the job.

So that is where I identify with "The Program", and why for my next several posts I will be examining each step and evaluating it's inclusion in my fellowship.
Right here and now I am asking you to step up and give your suggestions for the posts, either by comment or email if you are shy. I won't judge you. I know we all take a different route to this. I will of course give my opinion and my feelings on issues like the "Higher Power", but I will support and respect your right to express an alternate position.

I couldn't think of a respectful way to illustrate this serious post. So I thought I would just show off my lovely "new" vintage shoes that I am stepping out in. (geddit?)

Aren't they purdy? and they were only €35
Till next time.



Nick McGivney said…
I suggest one step where you learn to confront your old self, the one that you'll still see in the faces of strangers when they see your special one(s) at full tilt or looking like they have a 'condition' that makes everyonegather their normal kids about them in a protective sweep. I didn't think I was ever there, but somehow I think I just might have been...
K.Line said…
I cannot wait to see this theme play out. I'm sure it's going to be edifying and fascinating.

And really nice shoes, too. xo
Andrea Eames said…
This sounds like a really interesting series of posts - I look forward to reading them

(And lovely shoes!)
Ooo! I can't wait, either.

Haven't reached that step of acceptance of "others," though. I can handle most anything but I'll tell you other smug parents who think if I'd just discipline my kids better are, I hope, in for a special place in Hell.

Not that I'm unforgiving or anything. :]

Hey, have you looked up what the 12 steps really entail? One of them is "making amends" to the people you hurt. Ready to do that?

Yoinks. Me neither.
Skye said…
Fabulous shoes! I cannot suggest the 12 steps (although I could suggest about 50 about just becoming a common or garden type parent), but I will be as fascinated as ever to read about them.
Sister Wolf said…
Since I am an atheist, I have trouble accepting the 12 steps as legitimate.

But! For us parents, I think that step 1 is like that sappy "Welcome to Holland" parable. Only it isn't Holland. It's more like a war zone on another planet.

You recover from the shock of not getting what you expected, and you accept that your life will never be the same; it will never be 'ordinary.'

Step 2, of course, is recognizing that you will do whatever it takes to help your special needs child succeed.

Shoes help, too.
I'm going to sit back and the brilliance unfold....
..... said…
haha that post made me smile !
Cal said…
Not to ignore your beautiful introduction piece to the 12 steps but...those shoes are STUNNING! They make me think of old fashioned pins...layered gowns...corsets...crystal punch bowls...marble floors...chandeliers...dancing feet! (Yes, I know, that's a lot to get from a pair of shoes but it all popped into my head when I saw them!)
Sharon McDaid said…
I've just looked up the 12 steps and am interested to see how you apply these to parenting a child with a disability.

I have to say, so much of what I read about being a special parent, in the mainstream media or published books, pisses me off BIG TIME. (Nick knows what I'm talking about!)

The wiki entry on the 12 steps states that you first acknowledge that you can't control the addiction/compulsion. I suppose with us, that translates to, we need to accept the child we've got.

I reject the idea of a higher power myself, so that bit's of no relevance.

For past errors, I suppose it's confronting my past discriminatory attitudes, my pity for and my fear of people like us and our children.

For the rest of it, well I'll see what you come up with.
Nan P. said…
Just two things:
1. Those shoes... hummmm! I'd need a brand new dress with matching jacket for these.... Can picture them now :-)
2. I am sitting tight, waiting to see what you're going to come up with on these 12 steps... Interesting...
Seeker said…
I'm the one who take my hat off to you to start the discussion of this matter. It's something that only a brave heart like you would do.
I'm very curious to read more about. So I'll look forward for more posts.

And the shoes are to die for, gorgeous, beauty.

Make Do Style said…
Great shoes they do help!
I'm enthralled already and can't wait to read the next installment.
Elizabeth said…
I will be fascinated to see where this goes.
Sesame said…
Oh what a challenge Hammie but av no doubt u will pull it off...waiting eagerly for your next posts and thinkin of wat I can add to it...
Anonymous said…
Okay, I've been thinking about this and my understanding is that you are going to use the 12 steps as a basis for your own journey of learning to live (deal?) with something you had no control over. Is that right? Are the five stages of grief relevant to this in anyway also?
After looking up (thank you wikipedia) the 12 steps, it looks awfully hard to remove jebus and god from the steps, you know, if you wanted to... I would imagine you could substitute it for the universe or even your own, um, 'higher level of self'? Anyway, like everyone else I am really looking forward to this and I am insanely jealous of your shoes!!
Casdok said…
An interesting idea.
And love those shoes!!!
Anonymous said…
Super Kawaii Mama

I had a very hard time reading this post with such a visual distraction. Wow, what a find. I expect to see these modeled with a suitably Jackie O outfit my dear. Highly impressed by your Thriftage.

(blogger ate your comment Super Mama; hence the copy!

WendyB said…
Is it okay if I fail to comment on all the serious stuff just so I can say how much I admire the shoes?
Lisamaree said…
Nick: hmmm, still thinking on that one. But truth be told I do the "i'm so cool I didn't even notice your giant goitre" look.

K-line and Cat: it is a work in progress, something to think on as I sweep the floor and strip beds down - wont know until I touch the keyboard.

Mrs C: I am the queen of the "whaddayu lookin at" stare, but I am getting closer to letting some of the looks go. I still karate chop anyone who comments though...

Skye: I don't know what it is like to be a typical parent. But not everything is about autism, sometimes it is just about common or garden kids.

Sis: As you know I am a good church of england dyslexic agnostic amnesiac. So I will be tackling the issue from that angle.

Cal: They can do all that and more. I'm seein' if they will take me to Kansas tomorrow.

Mattie: I'm already brillant, I found those shoes!

Sharon: we are on much the same track. I am just curious to see if a program that helps people take the steps to giving up an addiction; will help us to come to terms with this unexpected life. Rather than just muddling through and making it up as I go along.
I like being able to plan.

Nan: They go with everything I own already. That is why they are so good for a recovering shopacreditaholic.

Seeker: not so much brave as curious. And my scientific brain says the best way to learn about something is to try it yourself.

Make do: yes they do. They really do and no nasty side affects.

enc: I hope I live up to your expectations.

Sesame: isnt it something you have wondered about?

Cybil: Spot on. I think I learned those from the Simpsons too. Whereas in Ireland grief counselling is a pat on the back and a "God Help Ye".

Casdok: Thanks, and happy belated birthday.

Super Mama and Wendy: it is always okay to be distracted by shoes. They are the mental health I wear on my feet.
And they are 1960's handmade with a lovely leather lining printed with the name of the south coast atelier who commissioned them from Italy.

Really interesting take on using the twelve stops for something other than addiction. The serenity prayer is something I use even though I am not addicted.

The shoes are lovely!!!!
Anonymous said…
Looking forward to it, beautiful. Especially as the 12 Steps are meant to ground, but also to empower, and you know I love me some empowerment.