Read below for a guest post from Lorna Bradley.
“Later you get pie!”
Words to live by shouted by a cheering spectator as I ran mile after mile in a recent half marathon. Seriously, spending my calorie bank after a race makes me very happy. One of my favorite parts of running races is the motivational signs. Okay, that and the finish line.
I enjoy reading the funny signs along the course:
“Better hurry! People are chasing you!”
“Worst parade ever!”
“Free bananas ahead!”
“The end is near!” (Held by a person dressed like the grim reaper).
When I am starting to feel tired around mile 8 or 10 a little inspiration is a fine thing:
Never, never, never, give up.
Focus on how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go.
The voice in your head that says “you can’t” is a liar.
Wouldn’t it be great as a special needs parent if we had motivational signs to encourage us with the task of parenting?
To the parent on the start of a quest for a diagnosis: Never, never, never give up!
It took our family 17 years to move through ADHD, OCD, Tourettes, and anxiety diagnoses finally to have a name for all those behaviors. Asperger’s. Someone out there has the answer.
To the parent of a middle-schooler dealing with hormones coming into play and new sets of challenges: Focus on how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go!
Infancy gave way to the preschool and elementary years. Those are all behind you now and you have raised a remarkable child. Job well done! Stretch your arm high in the air, bend it, and give yourself a good pat on the back for the awesome job you have done. Look how far you have come!
To the parent who has reached the limit: The voice in your head that says “you can’t” is a liar!
Are you taking time to care for yourself? How can you make that a priority? All those folks who say, “Call me if you need anything.” Call them. Really. They want you to because they care. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you are human. Even Jesus took a break from time to time to go away for respite so he could return to his work in ministry refreshed and renewed. Plus, he didn’t go it alone. He depended on his friends. If it worked for Jesus, it’s worth trying.
The Bible is full of motivation for special needs parents:
“Run with perseverance the race set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1b, NRSV)
“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NRSV)
“Do not worry about anything…” (Philippians 4:3a, NRSV)
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NRSV)
Parenting is a sacred duty and the most important thing we get to do with our lives. As special needs parents, we have a heaping big portion of parenting. Fortunately, we have a heaping big God helping us, cheering us on for the road ahead.
Rev. Dr. Lorna Bradley is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, wife, and mother to a 23 year old son with Asperger’s. Lorna serves at The Hope and Healing Institute in Houston, creating tools for churches better welcome families with special needs. Her particular interest is providing parent support to increase family resilience. She also has a blog.