There are momma bears, and then there are MOMMA BEARS. Those of us who are raising a child with a chronic illness, disability, or special need tend to fall in the second category. While not necessarily qualifying as a “helicopter parent,” we do tend to stay a little more engaged than the average mom or dad, monitoring for anything serious in the way of medical, psychological, behavioral, or social issues.
It seems only natural for us.
From the time our kids are first diagnosed, we are learning to be proactive parents. We consume voluminous amounts of information, praying for God’s best discernment on how to put what we learn into action. We go from zero to 100 miles per hour when there is the first indication of a medical crisis, a behavioral meltdown, or a wicked case of bullying. We know how to do triage and treatment along with the best of professionals. And we get to be stronger advocates with every passing year.
Yet, the time comes where MOMMA BEARS need to go hibernate for a while and let their kids be kids. With children in the teen and pre-teen categories, I am encountering this more every day. Just this past week I had to swallow hard, pray in full trust, and cut those apron strings once again.
My 14 year old son with severe hemophilia was invited to the birthday party of one of his best friends. This party was at a local roller skating rink. For those with whom this doesn’t immediately send up a red flag, imagine falling down repeatedly…….. HARD…….. with no way to form a stable blood clot inside your body. Now you’re getting the picture of why I had to keep my mind abundantly distracted during the hours this party was being held. Let’s just say that in our family’s world, roller skating is not considered a “hemo friendly” activity.
Regardless, I knew that with my son growing, he had some decisions to make for himself. Did he want to go to the party or didn’t he? If he wanted to go, would he be skating? If he would be skating, what would be the best treatment plan he could come up with to make this a positive, relatively safe activity?
Meanwhile, not to be outdone by her older brother, our youngest child ventured out on her own with a friend for the first time. This may not sound like a big deal to the average momma bear, but to us MOMMA BEARS who are raising kids with issues like Asperger’s, ADHD, severe allergies, asthma and the like, this was a major life event. The lack of adequate social skills and executive functioning have been something that made this event come much later than it did for her older siblings.
Once again, I had to swallow hard, pray even harder, and go over the plan with her before she left our sight. Where are you going? Who are you going with? When will you return? Remember our family rule to text or call when you change locations.
I am proud to announce that both teen and pre-teen bears arrived home in one piece. Since my son made the decision to infuse a double dose of clotting factor prior to his party adventure, he felt that he had adequate coverage for the 4 spills he took while having the time of his life with friends. My daughter’s social horizons blossomed as she and her friend ran into other classmates at the park playground. Of course, I was privately applauding her when she remembered to text me that they were there.
That’s the gift in these difficult transitions…… When MOMMA BEAR is willing to let go, she wins the blessing of seeing her children blossom.
Whether our children are operating at a fully ambulatory, age appropriate level, or they are non-verbal and cognitively delayed, giving them some space to expand their borders can actually help our precious youngsters to grow to a fuller, healthier potential. They will make some mistakes along the way, and it will be okay. There may be setbacks. Lord knows, our son was still in a world of hurt the following morning, despite his wise plans. Nevertheless, our challenge is to rest and trust in the knowledge that God loves our children immeasurably more than we ever could, and He will be with them even when we are not.