Dena Blizzard is a mom who usually likes to share videos about the most hilarious aspects of parenting. But this video was different.
On her Facebook page "One Funny Mother,” Blizzard posts videos and stories that highlight the funny side of raising children. You may remember her from last year's viral video where she filmed herself in Target defending teacher school supply lists.
But her recent Facebook Live video shares another side of motherhood — the one where we cry by ourselves in a CVS parking lot.
“This is the other side,” she said, “when things aren’t really that funny.”
And though people aren't laughing with her this time, they're loving her for it. Thousands of parents have commented on the video in support and solidarity.
Blizzard had just left an IEP meeting for her eighth grade daughter who struggles with anxiety and ADD.
(For those unfamiliar with special education terminology, an IEP — Individual Education Program — spells out the supports and services kids need to make progress and succeed in school. It's a legal document collaboratively created between parents, teachers, administrators, and others in the education system and is reviewed periodically.)
Blizzard met with her daughter’s IEP team, which includes teachers and a caseworker, to talk about a way to help her daughter with testing: She does all her homework, but keeps failing written tests. Blizzard wanted to discuss the possibility of testing her daughter verbally, or figuring out some alternative way for her to show what she knows.
As evidenced by Blizzard crying the CVS parking lot, it didn’t go well. But she wasn’t just crying over this one meeting.
“This isn’t just today,” she said. “This is years ..."
Never stop advocating for your kids....but sometimes it’s just hard. #iep #anxietykidPosted by One Funny Mother, Dena Blizzard on Monday, April 16, 2018
Having kids with specific challenges and needs is hard. Constantly having to advocate for them can be exhausting.
“I’m tired,” says Blizzard. “And I’m at CVS again and I always cry at CVS. And I can’t believe I’m the only person who cries in the CVS parking lot after a bad IEP meeting.”
And she's right: Blizzard is definitely not the only parent to cry over feeling helpless about her children’s challenges. My daughter also struggles with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve lost it in the car when I'm alone multiple times.
Parenting is tough regardless, but when you add mental, emotional, or physical challenges to the mix, it can become overwhelming at times.
Image via somecards.com.
Blizzard's IEP meeting went sour because her daughter’s caseworker refused to make changes to the IEP at this point in the school year, stating that it would be the high school’s job to change it next year. Blizzard argued that with months left in the school year, it didn’t make sense not to make changes that might help her daughter now and help move her to a good place before she heads to high school.
The caseworker insisted that she not change her IEP. “My head exploded,” said Blizzard. “Why wouldn’t we try everything?”
The thing is, educators' hands are often tied, no matter how much they want to help a child learn in ways that work for them.
Blizzard gushed about her daughter’s teachers and made it clear they are not the problem. They want to help and even said that they’d be willing to test her daughter verbally, but there’s not a good way for them to track or pass along that kind of assessment.
“This whole process has made me look at our education system in such a different way,” she said. “I see so many teachers trying to help me but not having the resources or the leniency to do it.”
And that’s becoming more and more common as we learn more about the various ways kids learn.
“We’re all trying find the best way to help this one kid who is different than everyone else,” Blizzard said. “There are more kids that are different than everybody else — the norm is becoming so small — so why are we making every kid be tested the same way? And if my daughter can tell you what she understands, why is that not enough?”
“We have spent the better part of six years trying to figure out her beautiful brain,” she added. “And I don’t think I’ve ever been more clear as to what she needs.”
Blizzard knows her daughter, she knows how her brain works, and she knows she struggles with written tests. Her verbal ability is her greatest asset, and it’s frustrating that she can’t use it to show what she knows.
Blizzard’s video resonates because so many parents are living a similar struggle. And it’s refreshing to see the full truth of parenting — the hilarious and the hard.
We don’t always see the dark side of parenting, especially on social media. I give Blizzard a lot of credit for opening up publicly about her struggles — and for describing feelings and experiences many parents know all too well.
“Good luck to all of you fighting the same fight," Blizzard said toward the end of her video. "You are not alone. It feels very alone when you’re sitting in the parking lot, but you are not.”
Parents, just remember: We're all on this beautiful, bumpy ride together.