“Michele, I was waiting for you to call and tell me what time you needed me to come watch the girls.” This was the voice on the other end of the phone, and it belonged to a dear friend.
” Oh, Chris. John and I decided we would just stay home, you know, it was easier.” My reply lacked strength.
“Michele you know Elizabeth would have been fine with me, we would have had a lot of fun, I even had some fun toys to bring over for us. You really need to let this happen next time!”
” I know…you’re right, but……..………………………………………..
Famous last words correct?
That conversation was one I had with a dear friend, a worker I had met at the rehab center where Elizabeth would go for her Occupational Therapy every week.
Elizabeth was young at this time and deep in the throes of her SPD. I was so afraid to let this special person take care of Elizabeth. But the truth was, John and I could have very much used and enjoyed a night out. But my fear of a meltdown from Elizabeth, that Chris might not REALLY know how to handle her made me want to stay home. So quite obviously, we did not go…………
Raising typical children can exhaust parents to the point of seeing bedtime almost as a finish line that they can cross with their arms up in the air in victory. For those who are raising a special needs child that arms-in-the-air moment comes after a day that includes activities and situations foreign to those raising typical children. The exhaustion can be so completely overwhelming. It can come from both the physical and mental toll that raising our special children brings.
Sometimes we feel that one WE can be the ones to care for our child, that WE are the ones that do it the best. I will speak for me at this point and YES, I guess I thought that no one could understand Elizabeth’s needs as well as me and John and no one could help her like we could. I have learned in the many things in the years that we have been raising this wonderful, amazing child. One of the biggest things I learned and want to share now, is that it is okay to hand the baton to someone else for a bit…..it is okay to have those special people who possess special gifts to share them with your child….it is okay to take a moment to allow someone else in and it is okay to be happy to be without that baton for a bit.
Had I allowed Chris to babysit Elizabeth that night, I am sure she would have shared part of her great self with Elizabeth and given Elizabeth the chance to have fun with her.
I am not saying that all would have gone well that night, that suddenly Elizabeth would have lost her SPD and dyspraxia and had the perfect night, just that if we pick the right person and time, our children will benefit as will we.
I offer these thoughts out this week as it is SPD awareness month in October, we know that the SPD affects our children each day of their lives. We can help raise awareness by being honest with those who are our trusted family and friends, And it is through this honesty that we can see who in this special group of people may wish to share their special gifts with our children. With the right people, this is a great thing.
Flash to 2013……Elizabeth is heading into the high school for a club meeting. A senior at the school meets Elizabeth at the front door to be her “buddy” during the meeting and activities. Through this “buddy” Elizabeth can relax and meet many new people without having her anxiety kick in….this is a great thing. As I watch her walk in, and wave to the “buddy” I feel really happy for Elizabeth, that so many new avenues are opening up for her by my letting those special people in, that it is okay to look down at my hands and not see that baton I imagine to be there. Instead, I look up at the senior and imagine it in her hand as she waves to me. I will get that baton back later in the day but for now….it is okay to put both hands on the wheel and drive home….