I am honored to have my essay appear today on the series First Things First, part of Hartley Steiner’s special-needs parenting website, Hartley’s Life with Three Boys. Hartley works tirelessly on behalf of her children and all kids with special needs, writing and speaking publicly about raising children with differences ranging from sensory processing disorder to autism to bipolar disorder (check out her picture book, This is Gabriel Making Sense of School).
Most of the writing that you see on my blog and website is about childhood gender issues. But there’s another aspect to my parenting life and my writing that I’ve written about less often, but that is equally important: raising a child with special needs. Many gender-nonconforming kids also have other special needs, as I explored in the post Pink Orchids. Sam is gender-nonconforming, but also struggles with sensory, mood, and sleep issues. All of these things add to Sam’s burden, and affect our whole family.
First Things First will feature a new writer each month exploring how parents find the time and energy to take care of themselves, so that they can be there for their children. Self-care is especially important for parents of special-needs kids, whether those needs are physical, emotional, cognitive, or social. The essay series is a testament to how much love these special needs kids receive, and also to parents who know that to take care of their kids, they’ve got to take care of themselves first.
And I hope that it will encourage you to take care of yourself, too. Read my First Things First essay and let me know what you think.