Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder???

"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart... He (God) knows how much I love and miss you these days." (Philippians 1:3-4, 8, MSG)

Life with a child who has special needs is an endurance game. There are many days where we parents would like to pack it in and hand it all off to another person to take care of. As much as we love them, our children's behavior can wear on our last nerve. Additionally, the demands of running to doctors, dealing with schools, visiting therapists and giving treatments at home can all dissolve our vigor. When we find ourselves at this place, it's time to pull away for a bit.

We parents are great at playing the martyr and stating that there is no way we can find a minute apart from the kids. I rarely see instances where this is absolutely true.

The first step in pulling away for refreshment is letting go. Believe it or not, God has your child's best in mind. As much as we parents would like to think that we're the only ones capable of caring for our child, they will do fine with others looking after them. Our mindset must transfer to the fact that it's okay if another caregiver doesn't do things exactly like us; our child will be fine. This opens up the possibility for us to withdraw, leaving a spouse, a nurse, a respite worker, a camp counselor or another competent individual to step in.

If we are able to let go, we can find a wide variety of ways to spend some time at a distance from our children. Initially, it make take the form of one night a week taking a couple of hours to go read at the library or window shop at the mall. From there it may transform into taking a weekend away with a friend or a spouse. After that it can even graduate to sending our kids away to a week at camp or leaving for a week-long vacation ourselves.

Once we are able to "come apart before we come apart", we not only find restoration, but a new view of the children we care for. In the quiet of distance and lack of demands, we may find ourselves missing the charges we are subject to every other day of the year. We suddenly have time to reflect on all we love about our children. By the end of our little respite, if we didn't feel it before, we may find ourselves with a deep longing to return to those precious young people. The fog lifts and we can suddenly realize what a tremendous gift has been entrusted to our care.

This week my husband and I dropped two of our children at a hemophilia camp hundreds of miles and several hours away from home. The one remaining child is attending a local day camp for children with special needs. Of course, for us none of this would be possible without generous scholarships. I find myself grateful that not only do each of our children get to enjoy unique adventures and experiences, but I also get a break from the intensity of their care. I smile as I think of them and wonder what they're up to all day. Even when I got a call with a question from the hemophilia camp less than twenty-four hours after drop-off, I snickered when I realized my precocious son was in good hands. This time apart is just another part of the life experiences that will shape who they become over time. I miss them, and I know it will be a remarkable, joyful reunion at the end of this week!

Thank God that there are things like scholarships, charities and programs out there to offer us breaks regardless of our financial status! We each need to get creative in our thinking and keep our eyes open for these opportunities to spend some distance from those we care for. Please, don't hesitate to use these good gifts that the Lord has placed in your life! You will find yourself to be a better parent for it!

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely. I wish there were a way to get some of that help to my friends in the UK. There is literally no respite for them, and some have resorted to an evening in the bathroom for time off! Which is good, but these camps are better.