It happens all the time. I bump into a friend or acquaintance, or I answer the phone and I am faced with the inevitable question that precedes all polite and pleasant exchanges. “How are you?”

I think for a moment, and then I stutter. For a brief moment, I contemplate being honest, then as autopilot kicks in I answer, wearily and not at all convincingly...”I’m fine”

Once its been uttered, that’s it. The conversation moves on and I’m caught up in a conversation where my mind is never fully present because beneath my polite chatter, I’m not “fine”. I’m never completely fine.

“I’m tired”

Raising a child with autism and ADHD is tiring. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Late nights and early mornings take their toll. Not only am I fighting the limitations of my child’s conditions, I’m often fighting education systems and healthcare policies.

“I’m lonely”

It’s isolating. Even when there are people to speak to, its as though you’re speaking a whole other language. Sometimes, those closest to you barely understand your child’s diagnosis leaving you battling with your loved ones about parenting techniques and methods of disciplines. Attitudes from society means that its often easier to stay home than to go outside and withstand stares and rude comments from strangers.

“I’m worried”

I’m in a constant state of anxiety. Every parent is anxious for their child and their future, but when you have a child with special needs, the worry is relentless. Some days I sit waiting for the phone to ring from my child’s school. Other days I am chasing appointments or trying to convince professionals that methods or medications aren’t working.

“I’m angry”

I’m angry because certain parts of raising a child with special needs should not have to be so hard. No parent should have to fight for a diagnosis, or for interventions. A parent shouldn’t have to fight the education system for support for their child. All of the fighting externally leaves little time and energy for me to spend on what’s really important – my child.

“I’m jealous”

Jealous isn’t the right word, but there isn’t a word for what I feel. I see parents with their “normal” children and there is a part of me that wishes that we could do the things that they do too. I love my child unconditionally, but I wish that things were easier for him. I wish that things were easier for me too. I wish that society was more accepting and that we could enjoy the things that others take for granted.

So there you have it. These are just some of the unadulterated feelings that I feel on this journey as the parent of a child with special needs.

But is that all I feel?


“I feel proud”

My child has overcome medical odds and continues to defy his diagnosis. Sometimes I’m proud over huge things that warrant a cringe-worthy bragging post on social media, but other times I silently pump my fist in triumph as he tries a new food – a major feat when your child with autism has a restricted diet. I’m proud of myself too; I know my job isn’t easy and whilst I type this in the late afternoon wearing the same pyjamas that I woke up in, I admire my perseverance and resilience.

“I feel content”

I am far enough along in the journey to have accepted that my life is different than I had thought that it would be. I’m ok with that. I accept our limitations and recognise our boundaries. I am happy with the life that we have.

“I am amazed”

Everyday I am overwhelmingly amazed by my child and the things that he says and does. His siblings amaze me, by the way that they interact with him, and cope within our chaotic home environment. For every ten rude strangers, there’s that one amazing Good Samaritan that restores my faith in human nature. It’s all so truly amazing.

“I am loved”

Having a child that has difficulty showing emotions, or that lashes out when he feels anxious or overwhelmed is hard. Through him, I’ve learnt that there are a million ways to show love and that the love between my child and I is both reciprocal and unconditional.

The wide spectrum of feelings and emotions that a special needs parent goes through is complicated and confusing. In addition to feeling guilt as an emotion, there is guilt for feeling other feelings. There is also our physical health to manage, which more often than not is neglected as the needs of our children take priority. Every feeling, both emotional and physical needs to be acknowledged and listened to. Physical feelings, like exhaustion are warning signs that we need to slow down - as impossible as that might seem. Emotions like anger or guilt need to be acknowledged and let go because whilst feeling them at some point is inevitable, our journey is a long one and the extra baggage of negativity weighs you down.  Hold on to the good feelings though, for it is within them that you will find your motivation and inspiration for the tough times.

So, when you have those conversations where before you know it you’ve automatically blurted out “I’m fine” and you’re internally cursing yourself because “fine” doesn’t begin to encapsulate the magnitude of what you’re actually physically or mentally feeling, cut yourself some slack. You know what you mean…. and so do I.

Miranda Philip lives in London is a mother of four, substitute teacher, blogger and wife to her better half. When she isn’t mothering, teaching or blogging she enjoys as much travel and retail therapy as is physically and financially possible with four children and a two-year-old Shih Tzu.

She blogs at but posts more frequently on