Friday, January 18, 2013

Dream A Little

...Your young men will see visions.
    Your old men will have special dreams.
~Acts 2:17, ERV~

When we are raising a child with special needs, life is like a beaded necklace, moving from the link of one demand to another.  From the minute our eyes are open each day, there are the beads of sequentially pressing needs that every family faces, coupled with the unique, imposing requirements of a diagnosis jammed in between like an unappealing charm for which there is not enough room.  Despite those extra demands, our chain still remains only 24 hours long, so things that the average person would enjoy seem to get left off.  Things like observing our child with fascination and wonder, dreaming about what the future may hold for them are relegated to a dark drawer that you no longer care to visit.

Then there is the fear.  If you're anything like me, your heart skips a beat and your hands shake, ever so slightly, each time the school phone number comes up on Caller ID unexpectedly during the day.  Is my child safe?  Is everything okay?  Do I need to drop everything and run to the school for yet another emergency?  If I find this alarming now, what will I feel like when my child no longer lives at home?

Living life in the moment like this is demanding enough.  We dare not begin to imagine what our child may be or do when they grow up.  No, those thoughts are much too worrisome.  Parents like us look to the future and see expectations that will never be fulfilled.  We get anxious, wondering if our child will be able to care for her or himself.  Will they be able to secure a job with good medical insurance?  Will they ever find a loving spouse who accepts them and is supportive of them?  These places are too frightening for us to tread...  So we don't.

Yet, our children are still children.  It is only natural for them to dream.  We can steer our precious offspring in certain directions, but the fantasies are all theirs.  For example, our son once thought he wanted to be a football player.  My husband was ready to get on his soapbox when I gently patted his hand and casually mentioned to our son that he may want to consider if that was a "hemo-friendly" choice.  It didn't take long for him to quickly recall on his own a family friend whose son ended up in the hospital with a concussion.  In an instant, our son made an about-face, taking his dreams elsewhere.  There was no need for us to worry.  We merely needed to equip him to examine his own goals, and the Holy Spirit took care of the rest.  And it was fun just for that short while to picture our boy as a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. 

While it can be a bit hard on our stomachs, our children need us to enter in and dream a little with them once in awhile.  They need the relaxation of setting limitations behind them.  Our encouragement and support mean everything to them.  Nothing can be more fulfilling to them when they grow than to know we are proud of them and their aspirations.

At the same time, those day dreams or fantasies can benefit our emotional health.  What a relief it can be allowing our minds to wander to greener pastures versus the dry, dead grass of grief that is ever at our heels.  It can lessen stress and depression, stimulate creativity, boost productivity and add to our energy.  Giving ourselves permission to share those dreams with our kids may even help us to find ways to make those aspirations become reality.  

This weekend, take a break from all of the "have-to's."  Engage your child in a conversation of "What do you want to be when you grow up?".  Even if your child communicates through an assistive device or is cognitively delayed, spend time imagining together.  Don't worry about tomorrow.  After all, Jesus tells us each day has trouble enough on its own. (See Matthew 6:34)  Instead, take a mental vacation and support your child in their dreams.  You never know which ones the God of the impossible situation might make come true!

PRAY:  Lord, so many dreams for my child have had to change since diagnosis.  I have been afraid to imagine the future.  Comfort me, Jesus, and help me abandon that grief long enough to enjoy the visions of "some day" with my child.

1 comment:

  1. Great reminder and insights, Barb! There's a message here for all parents too! I've been sharing some of your "stuff" with a friend who is new to the special needs community and she has been blessed!