When You Want To Quit

I think many of us struggle with it all the time. This is for the special needs mom when you want to quit. 

I am really struggling with everything right now. The constant meltdowns are just getting to be too much. I am not sure I can do this much longer. How do you do all this and not feel like you want to quit?

A sweet mom emailed me this question last week.

I receive a variation of this all the time.

All. The. Time.

I can’t do this anymore.

My life is in chaos and my child is sick.  I want to run away.

I am scared and not sure I can go on.

All are from real moms dealing with really, really hard things.

Constant meltdowns.

Not learning to read, year after year. 

A child threatening suicide.

Daily calls from the school or no school option at all.

Sleepless night after night.

How do you do all this and not feel like you want to quit?

special needs mom when you want to quit

My heart hurts every single time I read these emails and comments.

Like the mom whose church elders visited and told her that she needed to let her son with separation anxiety disorder go into the Sunday school classroom instead of staying with her in the sanctuary on Sundays. (Yes, this happens. Yes, I am certain the elders felt like they were doing the right thing. No, I do not believe it is ever a good thing to make the mom feel like she needs a doctor’s note in order to be respected as a parent in her church community.)

Or the mom who is not getting anywhere with the school IEP meetings and her son is losing functionality every single day.

Or the mom who cleaned up another room torn apart in her ten year old’s last meltdown, taping up a window that had been broken and severely cutting her own finger.

Or the mom who just hung up with the insurance company, after being on hold and transferred between departments for over an hour. She was told that the company would not be paying the $4000. bill because there is a question as to the treatment being for anxiety or for autism.

These are all very real messages I have received from very real moms.

All of them feel like they are ready to give up.

For The Special Needs Mom When You Want To Quit

When You Feel Like You Want To Quit

When I am asked how I am able to this without feeling like I want to quit, I want to shout across the internet –

Who says I don’t feel like I want to quit? I want to quit every single day.

The mornings are the hardest.

Before I am even fully awake, I feel the sense of despair creeping in.

What if he can’t make it into the car for the doctor’s appointment today?

He punched me in the face yesterday. What will happen when he is older?

I don’t want to get up. I want to curl up under the covers and be someone else today.

I want to run away to Mexico and feel the warm sun on my face.

I can’t do this.

I can’t stand this.

I want to quit all the time.

For The Special Needs Mom When You Want To Quit – you are not alone. 

For The Special Needs Mom When You Want To Quit

The truth is, no matter how much we might “feel” like we want to quit, we can’t. Quitting is not really an actual option.

We know this and so…

We get up out of bed.

We drink too much coffee.

We breathe deeply and pray for mercy, for patience, for relief, for joy.

We cry.

We speak calmly, even when our insides are anything but.

We hide – in the bathroom, in the closet, under the covers.

We take the moments we need to check out, to recover, to feel sorry for ourselves, to feel sorry for our kids.

We feel like we want to quit.


When you’re a special needs mom who wants to quit, you know it’s not an option. So we take the next step, and then the next, knowing it’s the only way.

We feel like we want to quit, but really, what we want is help – some sort of respite.

What we want is just a little less hard. What we need is a little more rest. What we crave is a heart that doesn’t ache with concern and burn with shame.

We want what we simply can’t have, this side of heaven.

For The Special Needs Mom When You Want To Quit

For The Special Needs Mom When You Want To Quit (and you will want to quit)

We are the parents our children need. We are the best shot they’ve got. No matter what, deep down inside, we know this to be true.

So we wipe the tears and we get back to doing what’s required.

And no matter what, there, in the midst of pain and chaos, in the hazy middle of our lives, we glimpse a small sliver of something meaningful.

Hope. Beauty. Grace. Purpose.

They too are there, gently beckoning us.

Reminding us.

When we strip away all of the hard and all the bad, what’s left is what matters most – the only reason we will never quit.

What’s left is love.

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  1. Tears brimming as I nod my head to all of this.

    The other day, an old friend (like I hadn’t seen her in 17 years!) stopped by, and I decided to be open and real and let her have a front row seat to my raw and real life. After a moment of my son shouting that she needed to leave and I left the room for a few minutes to help him settle in another room.

    When I cam back, her eyes were wide as she asked, “How do you cope!!?” And my answer was simply this, “Moment by moment. depending on Jesus for my every breath.” And you know, that’s no exaggeration!!

    Like you said, giving up really isn’t an option. But there are days that are giving days, and I let the tears fall freely. And then I pray for the mercy, grace and strength I so desperately need and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    P.s Some of the things you said reminded me of my most recent post on my blog : – )

    1. Sylvia Turner says:

      I always try to remember that God gave me this job and that he knows I can do it. I dont want to let him down. Thank you

  2. I really needed this. I was meeting a new mom yesterday and all I could feel was just how different my life was from her “normal” children. The more we talked, the more tired I felt. This was a God-sent encouragement for today!

  3. I am now 60 with an adult child (20) who has been acting similarly for 15 years. The first five years of his life were perplexing and exhausting but not as bad as it eventually became. We did find relief for a time when he went to a fabulous therapeutic boarding high school. He was happy and did well in the structure and support. Eventually I learned there are wonderful programs for children and middle school age. We certainly wish we had gotten help sooner.

    We accommodated and juggled and tried to side step or prevent melt downs for years always hoping he would outgrow. It was a survival, and all our juggling was simply that and never made the impact ultimately needed for a sustainable lifestyle we envisioned.

    Once I became an empty nester (in theory because he still lives with us as an adult) I committed my self and professionalized my services to parents supporting their voice and assisting with planning for a child with emotional or behavioral health needs including neuro atypicality. I now know of the best programs and much more than can be learned from a google search for programs.

    The journey is unbelievably difficult is all I can say. And yes, parents can be traumatized by the long term impact of this type child. Healing from parenting trauma is another issue all together and important for self, for siblings and all.

    1. Elaine, do you offer your services as part of your career? There are so many of us that could benefit from this help. How did you find some of these services?

      1. Hi, Erica.

        I do offer these services as a small consulting business. I am hesitant to speak much here without invitation to do so.

        How did I learn? A lot of time studying, training and energy. Back in the day I stumbled on this career field and used a consultant for my family. It wasn’t fabulous but the woman was good and is well respected and helped us a lot. I found a whole new world. My professional experience and lived experience made joining this profession a no brainer. What sets me a part is I am heavy on empowering the family voice and engage the parent as the expert. I’m extremely collaborative. Basically I assist in creating strategic actionable plans during challenge and difficult days. I’m all about the long haul. Personally, I refused to “go down” with my son’s ship. It’s a difficult journey that hasn’t ended but I now have energy and knowledge that parents can lean into as they find their way. I bring a fresh perspective that includes personal mentoring and significant insight of the wider educational and therapeutic industry. Hope this helps. I am with each of you on the journey.

        1. Hi Elaine – please feel free to share any info about your services here!

          1. Thank youm Shawna, for the honor of a presence in your special sacred place. I am a “special needs” mom of which I won’t give details here (and new to being on facebook and social media). I have 7 adult children, 6 sons and a daughter. My passion is education and facilitating growth and change for just about any age and on any topic I am capable to engage, including mental health education. Due to issues of my children I was always intrigued to figure out how to teach or facilitate learning on the topic since I always was aware I could not be the only one needing support and info. Long journey and lots of training including SAMHSA and speaking at Georgetown U conference on a DJJ course I developed for parent and teens struggling with aggression in the home. We needed a therapeutic program for many years and finally after engaging it was respite and life changing in different ways. My response was to create a consulting business to help families find legitimate therapeutic schools. That has evolved as my work is family driven (I listen to families and believe parents are experts, unlike most) and many families simply cannot afford treatment or therapeutic schools or need to wait and do so during teen years when the person is big and developmentally on target to individuate. So, while I offer full and extensive private consulting, I have also embarked on consulting that is more mercy because in no way does it pay me in the long run. I consult all over the country and locally with parents who are living with fears, isolation, being consumed with the child’s issues and sad sense of failure as a parent. At 60, I survived and even thrived in the midst of it and the resulting trauma. My self care with yoga and pilates comes first now. I am at a stage in my life and marriage where I can be strong and younger parents coming on can lean on me and become strong with their own goals, vision and voice. I mentor parents, plan with them for targeted interventions in their locale, believe in them and on and on. You can find me on the web at http://morganguidance.com/ and facebook https://www.facebook.com/MorganGuidance/. (my social media coach would say I should ask you to Like it) I’m making effort to learn social media as one-on-one consulting while fabulous for those with resources can be cost prohibitive to many and my max number of clients in a year is 20 families. I love support groups and am open to parent support callin to my conference line. At this point, no charge because it is helping me learn how to efficiently meet the needs of parents. There are so many. My professional orgs are IECA, Associate member, NATSAP and NCDA. NAMI and NIMH are clear: 1 in 4 is touched in a lifetime. 1 in 17 experiences a severe mental illness. The numbers for all levels of ASD are staggering. Thank you, Shawna and all. I am honored to write these words at your invitation as they are a testimony to unending Grace and my intent never to go down with my kids’s ships/issues.

  4. December Courtwright says:

    Amen and amen! We are the parents our child needs. It’s so human to declare our end. To declare our lack, and our exhaustion. So very human. What’s encourages me is that God “bears us on eagles’ wings and brings us to Himself.” (Exodus 19:4) He is the indestructible life supply within us that becomes our outward buoyancy to go about caring for our kids day by day. Thank you again for touching this very real matter. XO

    1. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone. But sometimes I don’t even think there is love. And that is what is truly sad.

      1. Sometimes it is hard to love in these circumstances.

      2. I know the feeling. For protection, sometimes the brain or spirit detaches. Feelings can be hard to come by in that state. It’s okay to acknowledge it and be open to feelings that might return fleeting and come when you are capable to experience it. Doubting if there is love is a different topic. I am happy to explore and listen where ever you are on the journey.

  5. Thank-you so much for sharing this. I needed to hear this as I homeschool my son with sensory and neurological needs that are very demanding. I am so sad for some of the moms that have e-mailed you and written to you. I hope they know that they are not alone. We who choose this path of love and struggle are all in it together. Please keep writing. It means so much to those of us who are on this journey.

  6. This is beautiful. You are doing such sacred work in this safe and comforting space you’ve created.

    1. You are so kind. Thank you, Ginger.

  7. Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful, so encouraging, and so, so helpful!! Thank you!

  8. I needed to read this today. It is so hard now my son is becoming a teenager but yet is not. Medication, anger, confusion, arguments, and my sweet little boy is changing so quickly that is brain doesn’t know how to handle it.
    I cry
    My heart aches
    I want to quit
    But I don’t because I love my kids and family
    All I want to do is help them succeed and be happy.
    Again, thank you for sharing. I know I am not alone on this journey but again it feels like it at times.

  9. RE: For The Special Needs Mom When You Want To Quit (and you will want to quit)

    We can’t quit. We CAN take a break without feeling guilty. As a mother with a 7-year-old daughter who is ASD (minimal verbal), I will be her advocate, voice and biggest fan Every. Single. Day. and some of those days that looks like superwomen going at 110% and others like I was hit by a mack truck, only to give 10%. It varies and it does not mean I love her any less. I rest when I need to. I ask for help when I need it. I take me time and go on dates with my husband. I sometimes get her Dunkin donuts for breakfast and sometimes make her gourmet meals. I do the best I can every day and as you can see every day looks different. I cry in the shower, in the car, randomly in the elevator. I cry alot. I smile alot too…at her big smile, her incredible laugh, her cute voice trying so hard to say momma, her bear hugs and her insatiable zest for life. There are no instructions given to moms raising special needs kids there is only your intuition. You know best! Do what you need to do for you, for your babies for your sanity!!! Don’t quit, take a nap!!!!



    1. I am sure this does effect fathers as well. Please don’t misunderstand – I only write about a mom’s experience because that is all I know. I would love for more dads to share their stories and perspectives so that other dads can relate and find community.

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