It very much bothers me when I can tell someone is sad or hurt and I don't know why or can't do anything about it. Sometimes I can intuit why and then address it, but other times I can't and blame myself and feel bad I can't help.
My son often works to hide his emotions, and I'm not sure why. Maybe school and peer socialization already? Tears will be streaming from his eyes, and he will wipe them away with his hands, but he will just say that his eyes are bothering him or irritated and he doesn't know why. Usually I know what's up and can help, but it's painful when I can't. My daughter, too, will not verbally admit her emotions, though I can often interpret them anyway, such as what's to me obvious fear rather than the insomnia she claims. Or that the real reason she wants to take Mama's blanket to camp (despite my husband's protests since I was using it all the time postsurgery) is that it's Mama's, not that there aren't other blankets that have similar textures and weights (I let her take it; I had withdrawal, but was glad she had it).
I often feel like such a terrible parent because I can't do as much for or with my kids as other people. At times I've wondered if they'd be better off with someone else as a caregiver, especially when they were very small. Or honestly, with my husband alone and me somewhere else since my pain is a drag. I'm not being melodramatic; children are often taken away from parents with disabilities whether or not neglect occurs. My pediatrician was highly upset that we hadn't brought our son to her at all in a year and a half, but I was too post-anesthesia stupid to let her know my husband's taken him to a much closer physician 8 or more times in that time period because he can't take 3 1/2 hours to take him to her office. Closer drive, less wait, convenient hours for my husband, almost physically impossible for me to go most of those times (most of it pre-scooter and high pain). I have wondered if my not carrying my son around and instead holding him and playing with him in one place somehow contributed to his autism. He was very inactive even in utero compared to my daughter, when I was still very active while pregnant.
I can't do most of the physical acts that show love for them, though some tasks I can handle other ways, such as ordering clothes for them, planning birthday parties from the couch, talking with them. Somehow they love me anyway, though I don't feel I deserve that at all. My husband, forgetting my son doesn't get jokes (people with autism are very literal) made a clearly (to me) lighthearted joke about my health, and my son's "eye irritation" started up again, and I had to reassure him no one was going to trade me in for a newer and better mommy. It's clear he still needs me around. There's no question to anyone that he loves me most, but that's odd since I don't do anything, at least not anything much.
The guilt does not go away. I'm screwing my kids up. I didn't know it would be like this, or I'm not sure I'd have had children. I did feel somewhat better recently when my daughter said how much it matters to her that I can tell what's she's feeling and respond to it without her having to say anything, that I can know without her telling, and she said to her that's more important than me being able to do many of the physical tasks that her friends' mothers do for their children. Nevertheless, I don't like not doing more. It's not good role modeling. I still need to do better somehow, maybe set small goals. So many times I stay here because it's too painful to get out with the rest of the family or with the kids and their friends. They are only young once, and not for much longer.