The holiday season is approaching fast, and for some of us, the holidays have already begun. The Jewish New Year arrived early this year, in mid-September. And as the year continues, there is at least one holiday per month for the rest of the year. This time can be very stressful for a family like mine and can bring guilt for all involved.
We have a child who does not do well with stimulation—she never has. We have always had to keep holidays and birthday celebrations low-key so that she could participate without it causing her too much stress. And now, with her declining physical health, we really do not get to go out a lot to celebrate at other family member’s homes.
As our daughter is now almost 14 years old, the way our family functions is nothing new to anyone who is close to us. It can be very hard for us to make plans. Sometimes, we must have a holiday celebration on a different day than the day it occurs.
So when my mother calls on the day of one of these holidays—when it is impossible for us to make the family get-together—I wish she was more supportive and understanding. Instead, I must listen to stories of how her friends are at their homes cooking and preparing for their family members to come and celebrate the holiday. It makes her sad that everyone she knows will be with their grandchildren that day and she won’t.
I try not to get angry, but it is hard to remain calm. It is not like I am purposely not wanting to get together on the holiday. So I take a few breaths and calmly remind her that we will get together and she can cook just like everyone else. Just not this day; this day my daughter is too sick to leave the house and there is nothing that can change that. So let’s plan and talk about doing it another day and focus on that.
Conversations like this add a lot of stress to an already stressful time and make me feel guilty. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday. Sometimes I just have to grit my teeth and get through it and work to put it behind me. It’s not easy, but can be done. Just remind yourself that this isn’t your choice either, but it’s what your child needs. And your child’s needs must come first right now.
Here are some other articles from parents to help families through the holidays.
As a parent to a child with a disability, we often must learn little tricks to get things done. Each month one parent shares some of the tips and tricks she has learned along the way.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to find the profession that is our life’s work. I did.