“I’ve got a sinus infection,” I texted the friend who was picking me up at an unfamiliar airport in an unfamiliar town. “Do you have any antibiotics?”
“We’ve got your back,” she replied.
She wasn’t kidding. When she delivered me to our destination, she and my other friends had arranged an array of medications on the bathroom counter—everything and more than I needed to beat the nasty bug that reared its ugly head on a way to the Inclusion Fusion Live Conference where I was speaking before joining my friends for some R & R.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by their response.
Each of the friends is the mom, and most of them are moms of kids with special needs. They made sure I took my medicine and whisked me off to bed. “Don’t even think about going to church in the morning,” they said. “Sleep in and get better.” A single thought passed through my foggy mind as I fell asleep in the comfy bed made up with fresh sheets.
Sometimes, a mom needs to be mothered.
After 41 years of marriage, 36 years as the parent of a child with special needs, and 12 years of caring for my own mom I had forgotten the wonderfulness of being mothered. I had forgotten how lovely it is to be fussed over, to surrender control, to be given permission to rest, to turn off the alarm and sleep until my body would wake of its own accord.
My spirit felt as though it had wings when I woke up, even though my body wasn’t fully recovered.
I wished I could have share my lightness of spirit with the moms and dads who had attended Inclusion Fusion Live. Their faces had been marked with exhaustion and worry. Their shoulders drooped, their steps were plodding–clear signs that they were the ones pouring their lives into their children, but rarely experiencing any mothering themselves.
Sometimes, a special needs dad or mom needs to be mothered.
But how can mothering happen when caregiving duties are all-consuming? Here are the 3 steps that made it happen for me.
- Nurture friendships. It may seem easier to stay at home and let friends drop away, but don’t give into that mentality. Refuse to let caregiving duties isolate you. Maintain friendships by inviting people over even when your house is a mess. Meet at the park. Text or call often. By doing so you’re weaving a network of people ready to support and mother you.
- Ask for help. The text to my friend was hard to send. She had texted me earlier asking me to drive the car she left at the airport to our meeting place. But I wasn’t fit to be behind the wheel and had to swallowed my pride and tell her. Once she knew, her mothering instinct was on!
- Be ready to mother. Someday, your mothering friends and mine will need some mothering. Therefore, we have to maintain relationships so they feel comfortable asking for help. We also should ask the Lord to make our heart responsive when His Spirit nudges us to form new relationships in which we can mother others and be mothered.
Sometimes a mom needs to be mothered. Sometimes, a mom needs us to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences around the country. The book she is working with Dr. Gary Chapman about using the five love languages in special needs families will be released in August of 2019.