Interview with Supermamsen
THRIVE Nordics: Was there a specific moment in time when you realized you absolutely had to take your thoughts and experience to a public arena and begin publishing?
Supermamsen: As a mother, I felt very alone in our difficult situation. I then wished that there was something to read and relate to. When I began to receive comments of solidarity and recogniztion in the blog I created, I felt that I probably had something to contribute. I wanted to support others in a similar situation but also try to contribute to a consensus between home / guardian and school / educator. It is valuable to have both perspectives as I can understand both challenges. I felt that my book was needed and I was very happy that Kikkuli publishing house believed in it. A big part was that I wanted to show how much we parents of children with special needs go through. I feel that many may have the impression that we are, for example, lazy parents who do not raise our children or that we do not care about compulsory schooling. I wanted to show the reality we are often ”super-parents”!
THRIVE Nordics: Your book is very well known among families in Sweden with children with various special needs and also is very well referenced in these circles. As I network with various families across the nation, many of them reference your book. How have you experienced reception of the book since it was published and families reaching out to you?
Supermamsen: I have received great feedback on the book. Many write to me that they feel as if I have described their lives. That was exactly what I was hoping for! However, I hope to also reach other target groups such as educators, principals and administrators at the social services and the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
THRIVE Nordics: I understand that you are, for now, anonymous. Have you considered, in the future, going public and potentially collaborating with fellow educators and schools to offer training on how to better engage with children with various diagnoses?
Supermamsen: I try my best to stay anonymous for the sake of my children. The children are still in a tough situation. I myself would like to release anonymity. My children get to decide when I get to do it. I would like to lecture more and collaborate with others in the future. I think it would be great fun, for example, to hold groups for parents who are struggling as we do.
THRIVE Nordics: How do you think your role both as mother to children with special needs as well as educator helps with your advocacy work through blogging, other media and publishing?
Supermamsen: I think my dual roles make me more credible because I can see both sides. I know how tough it can be to be as an educator and that it can be difficult to see and understand a child’s needs based on only what you see in the school environment. I also have an understanding of the challenges of parenting and what it is like to fight for one’s children to have a functioning educational experience and the support the child is entitled to. The blog is written solely from the parent’s perspective and the book addresses both perspectives.
THRIVE Nordics: What is your vision for what an optimal educational setting and experience would be for your children (or would have been when they were younger)?
Supermamsen: The best thing for my children would have been a small class and quiet environment with educators who are low-affective and responsive to my children’s needs.
THRIVE Nordics: Any more books planned for the future?
Supermamsen: I do not have anything directly planned but I have an idea and a dream of another book. We’ll see if there will be anything.
In her own words…
I am a married, middle-aged mother to three children and work as a teacher in an afterschool center at an elementary and middle school. All my children have neuropsychiatric disabilities (NPF). My oldest child (born 2002) has Asperger’s, my middle child (born 2005) has Asperger’s and ADD and my youngest child (born 2009) has ADHD. The middle child also has a selective eating disorder (ARFID).
When our oldest child crashed from exhaustion in Autumn 2014 and started staying home from school, I realized how wrong it can be when educators and guardians do not listen to each other’s different perspectives. We saw a child who was completely exhausted after his school days but the school did not believe us. They blamed us and thought we should just force our exhausted child to school.
In the summer of 2015, I started the blog www.supermamsen.com to process everything we went through and write about myself. The blog quickly gained many readers who recognized themselves in our situation. The idea of writing a book was born. I would like to contribute to the consensus between guardians and educators but also give support and recognition to those who live in a similar situation as we do. The blog name Supermamsen was ironic. I felt unsuccessful and like the worst mother in the world.
The book was published by Kikkuli publishing house in March 2020 and is called “Supermamsen: Life as an educator and parent of children with special needs”. The book is also available as an e-book and an audiobook is underway. The book is about our different and challenging parenting and addresses my children’s different issues and challenges. I also describe how my parenting of children in need has developed me as an educator. I have learned an enormous amount by being a parent to my children. I also give some educational tips.
Our middle child, now 15 years old, has had a very hard time coping with the school environment but can study well at home in peace and quiet. Unfortunately, home study is not allowed more than in exceptional cases. My dream is that the school will be accessible to everyone; that knowledge becomes more important than presence and that every child’s needs can be met based on their own conditions.
BIO IN SWEDISH
Jag är en gift medelålders trebarns-mamma och arbetar som lärare i fritidshem på en låg- och mellanstadieskola. Alla mina barn har neuropsykiatriska funktionsnedsättningar (NPF). Mitt äldsta barn (född 2002) har asperger, mitt mellanbarn (född 2005) har asperger och add och mitt yngsta barn (född 2009) har adhd. Mellanbarnet har även ett selektivt ätande (arfid).
När vårt äldsta barn hösten 2014 kraschade av utmattning i årskurs 6 och började stanna hemma från skolan insåg jag hur fel det kan bli när pedagoger och vårdnadshavare inte lyssnar in varandras olika perspektiv. Vi såg ett barn som var helt slut efter sina skoldagar men skolan trodde inte på oss. De skuldbelade oss och ansåg att vi bara skulle tvinga vårt utmattade barn till skolan.
Sommaren 2015 startade jag bloggen www.supermamsen.com för att bearbeta allt vi gick igenom och skriva av mig. Bloggen fick snabbt många läsare som kände igen sig i vår situation. Idén om att skriva en bok föddes. Jag vill så gärna bidra till samsyn mellan vårdnadshavare och pedagoger men också ge stöd och igenkänning till dem som lever i en liknande situation som vi gör. Bloggnamnet Supermamsen var ironiskt. Jag kände mig misslyckad och som världens sämsta mamma.
Boken gavs ut av Kikkuli förlag i mars 2020 och heter ”Supermamsen: Om livet som pedagog och förälder till barn med särskilda behov”. Boken finns även som e-bok och ljudbok är på gång. Boken handlar om vårt annorlunda och utmanande föräldraskap och tar upp mina barns olika utmaningar. Jag beskriver även hur mitt föräldraskap till barn i behov har utvecklat mig som pedagog. Jag har lärt mig oerhört mycket genom att vara förälder till mina barn. Jag ger även en del pedagogiska tips.
Vårt mellanbarn, nu 15 år, har haft det jättetufft med att orka med skolmiljön men kan studera bra hemma i lugn och ro. Tyvärr är inte hemmastudier tillåtet mer än i undantagsfall. Min dröm är att skolan ska vara tillgänglig för alla; att kunskapen blir viktigare än närvaron och att alla kan mötas utifrån sina egna förutsättningar.