We all know the song by now - "Let it go, let it go, don't hold it back anymore..." Sorry, now you'll be singing it all day. But in the words of that little earworm of a song, there is some truth.
As special needs parents, we do have to let go a lot. The first thing that we all let go of is the expectations that we may have had for our child's future. I remember being pregnant with John and wondering where he would go to school. Would he go to the Air Force Academy like his dad or would he be a Florida Gator like so many in my family? As time has gone on, I have had to let go of the idea that John will definitely go to college and realize that his future is probably going to look very different.
Sometimes, we also have to let go of parenting strategies that we just KNEW we would use. Long before I had children of my own, a friend of mine had a beautiful little girl. One day, that baby girl used sign language to indicate to her mother that she had a dirty diaper and needed a change. I was blown away! This child who couldn't speak yet was using sign language! I just KNEW that was for me! So when John came along, I jumped into Baby Signs with both feet. However, he didn't. When his sign language never developed, and then his spoken language didn't develop, we headed to speech therapy. They, of course, wanted to try sign language. I assumed that I had been doing it wrong, and went full speed ahead again under their trained supervision. Still nothing. We tried and tried. We were frustrated, he was frustrated, and we were all miserable. Finally, we decided to let it go and try something else. Now he uses a device to communicate and life is so much better!
I think the hardest thing though, is letting go of people. There are people in your life that no matter how hard you try, are never going to understand. For whatever reason, they don't accept your child's diagnosis. Or they think it's your parenting. Maybe they want the "old you" back. Whatever the reason, it may be time to let them go. As a special needs parent, you need people in your corner. You need friends that understand that finding an appropriate babysitter is impossible, and that a glass of wine on the couch is just as good as a night on the town. You need family that accepts your child as he or she is, and doesn't hold on to show they "should" be. You need teachers and therapists that love your child as much as you do, and put everything they have into helping him or her be the best he or she can be.
So whatever isn't serving you - a friendship, a strategy, a situation - pull an Elsa and LET IT GO!