A while ago I wrote a post about how I tend to feel like a bad parent, mostly because of the disease that makes me unable to to a lot of parenting stuff. Since then I have thought a lot about it and realize that even though I don’t do a lot of the stuff that I think of as parenting, I do other things with and for my kid. To help my memory along the next time I feel like an absent parent, I’m going ot publish a list of some of the things we do together.
So, here it goes.
- We chill in my bed with an iPad/phone/computer each, headphones on and indulge in our interests. Every now and then my kid interrupts me to show something he has written or a picture he’s been drawing.
- I tuck my kid in at night. Put on his duvet, make sure all toes are covered (a ritual that he loves). Then we say good night in three languages.
- We look at pictures and movies, both from when he was younger and more recent ones. He’s learning how to search among pictures and movies using keywords on my computer and loves it.
- We write. My kid writes short stories on his ipad (or sometimes on a computer) and I write my stuff. Recently he started to care about spelling so now he’s asking me how different words are spelled and I have to try to explain different spelling rules in English and our first language.
- I create visual supports of different kinds, and my kid is always involved in this. He gives me input by telling me how he understands pictures for instance, so I can create schedules, instructions and illustrations of different kinds that help him.
- We make illustrated stories about things that are going to happen, things that have happened and things that my kid wishes for. We use a special app where we combine drawing, pictures, text and record talk.
- We read together. The more severe my ME has become, the harder it is for me to read out loud but sometimes I read to him, other times he reads to me.
- Stim. We color stim by blending colors in my drawing app (SketchBook), and look at things with nice, deep colors.
This list is by no means exhaustive and as a parent I do a lot of things that are more boring and not obvious to my kid, like planning different things with my partner, preparing for different events, arranged an assessment of my kid’s hypermobility and so on. But the list above is a good reminder of that I actually do spend time with my kid and I am his parent.
My way of parenting doesn’t fit the idea I have of what parenting should be, and it makes me doubt myself as a parent, but I need to remind myself that I do what I can considering being quite severley ill in ME, bedbound and housebound. I don’t parent in a conventional way, but I can give my kid something that I didn’t get: Space to explore and be his autistic self.