I remember how often I lied when people kindly said, “You’re taking care of yourself, right? You know Jason depends on you and you have to take care of yourself for him!” My answer was always, “Sure!” but under my breath it was, “Yeah, right!” My son was a micro-preemie and, after many ups and downs, was coming home after almost 6 months in the hospital. I was pumping breast milk every 2 hours (or, at least, was supposed to be), I was contracting out our dream home, and my husband and I were the finish contractors. Taking care of myself? In whose dreams?
Unfortunately, I found out the hard way what happens when I do not take care of myself: bouts of depression that can last 4 to 6 months and loss of myself – who I am, what I need, and what I want. Those kind people were right – I could not be there for Jason when I was not there for myself.
Caring for and about yourself is a daily task. It was finally when I no longer had the desire or energy to play with him, my sweet little boy who had worked so hard all those years to learn to walk and talk, and now, Mom could no longer have fun with him. I went for help.
Our families cannot operate if we are not rested and cared for. But, taking that time is something that’s hard for all of us to practice.
So, if you’re like us and need some help knowing where to start, here are some suggestions:
Our children with disabilities, their siblings, our spouses, parents, co-workers, and significant others are all affected by our emotional health.
We need to give ourselves permission for those 5 minutes (or longer, but start with just 5 minutes) in the bathroom by ourselves with our magazine. Because then, we will have a lot more strength and reserves to help our children.
It's important for my family to have only supportive people in our circle. Connecting with other parents and parent groups made a huge difference. Here's how.
If you have a child with a disability, I am sure you know that it takes a village to help raise a kiddo with special health care needs.