One of the first words out of our oldest grandchild’s mouth was, “DONE!” He used it emphatically at the end of meals…
When having his face washed or his nose wiped…
Or my personal favorite…approximately two seconds after his parents put him in his crib for a nap and then carefully and oh-so-quietly shut the door to his bedroom…
Lately, I’ve found myself silently echoing my grandson’s sentiments. When I’m asked to talk about my childhood spent caring for a father slowly being diminished by the ravages of multiple sclerosis. When someone wants to hear about the many surgeries our son’s endured during his early years. When I’m asked to recount our son’s diagnosis and treatment for PTSD. What I really want to say, instead of responding politely and patiently, is…
Some days, all I want is to be done with special needs. I don’t want to talk about them I don’t want to think about them. After all, my dad died in 1997. My son’s surgeries and treatment for PTSD are distant memories. But, the truth is that I will never be done with those memories. They shaped and are still shaping the course of my life. They are part of who I am.
On days when I think I want to be done with special needs, what I really want is a way to create some distance, to carve out time to rejuvenate and gain perspective so I can continue the work God has given me to do. I’ve discovered some ways to make that happen. Maybe these tips can help you on those days when you want to be done with special needs, too.
- Get a massage. This one sounds cliche, but a massage works wonders. Perhaps because during a massage it is impossible to multi-task. It is the one hour of the month when I totally relax and de-stress while someone else does the work.
- Watch or read something hilarious. It could be a movie or a classic TV series. Hard copy or audiobook. Mel Brookes or Dick Van Dyke. Carol Burnett or Amy Poehler. David Sedaris or Tina Fey. Find something that tickles your funny bone and makes you laugh. It’ll brighten your mood and your day.
- Get moving. Take a walk. Go for a jog. Ride a bike. Dust off the treadmill in the basement and use it while watching something hilarious. Exercise releases natural endorphins that make a person feel good.
- Phone a friend. Talking to a friend won’t make you into a millionaire, but a chat with an upbeat, empathetic friend can make you feel like a million bucks.
- Look back. When all you want to be is done with special needs, think back to when you first became a caregiver. Think about times in the past when you wanted to give up. Remember what kept you going instead. When did God show up? What did He do to keep you moving ahead? Who did He send to encourage you? Reflecting on God’s past faithfulness leads to present courage and future hope.
- Remember this is a season. Perhaps a long season, but only a season. Your caregiving situation is temporal, but eternity is forever. One day change will come. Today’s difficulties will one day be forgotten when the glory of Jesus is revealed to us and those in our care. One day we will stand, our bodies and minds fully restored, in the presence of our Savior and Lord.
These six practices seem simple, but they can make all the difference. Except, of course, when you put your little one down for a nap, tiptoe out of the room, and close the door oh-so-slowly and quietly just in time to hear a little voice from the bedroom proclaim…
When that happens, take a deep breath and count to ten. Ask God for the patience, strength, and love required to complete the work He’s given you to do. It’s a prayer He will answer. Because when it comes to granting requests offered in accordance of His will, our God is never