So, what am I posting about today? SUPPORT! We're always talking about that little word, aren't we? There are support groups and yahoo groups for everything under the sun these days! But what is it really? I have thought about this little word for years and years, and finally have come to the realization that the concept of support is a loaded one for me. Why? Because it probably looks and feels different than what most folks might expect.
I came up with these little (shall we call them....) suggestions:
- Please don't feel the need to provide answers, or offer suggestions that just might "fix" what folks are going through....especially in the parenting of children with "special needs" (and it is a vast world indeed!). If the answers were quick and simple, don't you think many of us would've found them out by now? When difficulties ensue, don't you think that most of us would RATHER "circumvent the suffering" and do whatever it takes to avoid them? (BTW, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and all the other "Anonymous" groups were formed for this very reason...there are a lot of methods folks have used to numb themselves to reality over the years.) The bottom line: Some things just ARE. We need to accept them, and DEAL with them in the best ways that we humanly can. Most of the time there is a process involved....it is called LETTING GO. (Disclaimer: I am NOT talking only to the guys here. My dear husband reminds me that trying to "fix" does tend to be a male trait. The desire to "fix" applies to many, many people...not only the man-folk!)
- Realize that sometimes ACCEPTANCE is its own achievement. It is also one of the most necessary aspects of living with a child with special needs. It does NOT happen overnight. It doesn't even happen within months or maybe even years. It waxes and wanes....and so do our emotions. Please understand that we do not enjoy this emotional rollercoaster. We may not have even bought a ticket for this rollercoaster in the first place, but we're hanging on through the whole ride regardless.
- Understand that our experience (and our child's behavior/condition) is ALWAYS EVOLVING... hence, the child who seems to be doing great today may not be doing so great tomorrow. I wish that there would be a rhyme or reason to how this works, but it doesn't happen that way! It would be wonderful if we could "can" those good days and pull them out during the holidays, in public places, and whenever it is convenient, wouldn't it?
- Know that we welcome honest questions about our experience with our SN kiddo and are more than happy to share with you what it is like (that is, if you're willing to really listen!). Most of the time however, I will spare folks the details unless they really want to know. You see, a lot of us spend a great deal of mental energy wondering just WHAT people think about us and our children. Asking "what it's like" would be a great alternative to our projecting what you "might" be thinking!
- Please forgive us for seeming preoccupied on occasion! I can't tell you how many times I have forgotten to log a check into the check registry while my child is throwing a tantrum in the checkout line, or I have forgotten to return a phone call amidst dealing with one thing or another. These kinds of occurrances are so common!
- Please try to understand that even though you believe there may be a spiritual reason for the parenting of a SN kiddo, we may not necessarily FEEL that our particular situation was "meant to be". Believe me, I was raised Catholic, have a theology degree, and worked in ministry for many years (even lived with nuns for two of them!)..... I have tried and tried to find meaning and purpose in the wake of so many of life's amazing challenges, including the adoption and raising of our child who has multiple special needs. Some days are just plain hard, hard HARD! Metaphors such as the Garden of Gethsemane and the Cross are helpful and give some strength, but there are still many unanswered questions and a longing for answers (hence the above comment about LETTING GO!). Be patient and understanding if we are not feeling particularly blessed. Maybe in time, we will.
- DO encourage us to be good to ourselves (however that may be). Yes....in the SN world we DO need people to keep telling us that!