Ahhh, the holiday hub-bub has come to an end. The tree and the decorations are down. The recycling truck hauled away the wrapping paper and boxes. The holiday leftovers are almost gone. The kids are back in school. My jeans still fit, though they’re snugger than normal. Now’s the time to sit down with a doughnut and cup of coffee–um, scratch the doughnut and make the coffee black–and ponder special needs goals for 2014.
Sounds like the right scenario. Except for one thing.
Setting goals for the new year has never been my cup of
tea coffee. As an organizationally-challenged, right-brained child, I either forgot my resolutions or lost the list within hours of making it. Once my left brain kicked in as a survival instinct during my first few years of teaching and I was cranking out personal goals and lesson plan objectives on a daily basis, making resolutions at the beginning of each new year seemed superfluous. And after the arrival of our special needs baby…well, I was busy pumping breast milk, administering antibiotics, and trying to persuade a baby with an oral aversion to eat to clutter up January with anything extra.
The idea of writing goals flew out the window and didn’t return.
Until 2014. A year in which goals are vital in order to meet the deadlines for three book contracts, redesign this website, and pursue the speaking path God seems to be forging. So here I am, with a fresh cup of coffee, trying think of appropriate goals while trying not to think about doughnuts. Or the fact that my child with special needs is an independent adult. Or asking myself, So Miss Special Needs Parent Imposter, why are you trying to come up with a special needs goals anyway?
The other event pressing down is the death of Aunt Lois, my mother’s oldest sister, in early November of 2013 and the death of their brother in March of the same year. Which came on the heels of the deaths of a sister and brother-in-law in 2012 and 2011 respectively. After their passings, my mother became one of the two living children from a sibling group of eight.
Every day, I wonder how the situation makes Mom feel.
I could ask, but between her early stage Alzheimer’s and her family’s Depression era don’t-wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve tendencies, she won’t say much. But other behaviors contain subtle hints about her underlying unease with this new reality. When I arrive each Tuesday to take her to lunch, to appointments, and on errands, she smiles a little brighter. When we say good-bye at the end of the day, she hugs a little longer. She says thank you more fervently.
I watch Mom’s shy grief and realize she has become my Tuesday child with special needs.
And my special needs goal for 2014 becomes clear: I will cherish each Tuesday we spend together. I will rejoice in her repetitive contributions to our conversations. I will count time spent with my mother a higher priority than writing books, website redesign, and pushing for more speaking gigs. I will remember that our Tuesdays together are numbered. I will consider it an honor to care for my mother and tend to her special needs as she once cared for me. This is one goal I won’t abandon or forget. Because it’s not written on a paper to be lost.
Until Mom leaves this world, this goal will be written on my heart at the beginning of each new year.
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