Friday, July 3, 2015

No Holidays!

Photo image courtesy of christingasner via 123rf.com
May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist. 
Galatians 6:9, VOICE

"No Holidays!"  It sounds good when we are hired for a new job and discover that we are never required to work on those occasions when the nation sees fit to celebrate.

It takes on a completely different meaning when we learn that those special occasions will never afford us a break.  Celebrations like the Fourth of July can leave parents raising kids with challenges feeling even more isolated than they ordinarily do, because those challenges -- chronic illnesses, disabilities, sensory issues, and mental health dysfunction -- never take a break.  Regardless of whether parades, picnics, and fireworks are on the schedule, assistance with daily hygiene, basic medical care, monitoring, medicating, and therapies still need to take place.  If a child is dealing with an sort of autism spectrum disorder, is prone to anxiety, or has a tendency to be obsessive, structure is critical, yet it's exactly what is missing during a holiday of any sort.  

These challenges can leave us feeling trapped at home while we watch the whole world around us celebrate.  On these occasions we glance wistfully at the life we may have once lived, longing for that normalcy once again.  Our hearts break just a little bit more as we don't feel like we fit in with family or friends who come together for food, fun, and festivities.  

It seems rather unjust when we are weary from the constant care our children require, to find ourselves robbed of even those special days that the rest of the world takes for granted.  After all, we are not asking for a lavish Hawaiian vacation here.  It would just feel nice to be able to enjoy a garden variety corn roast or hometown festival with the family.

I want to encourage you today.  It can seem like you are the only one who is working while the rest of the world is off enjoying blissful relaxation.  It can also seem like this is a life sentence with no possibility of parole when you are living through it.  Please know, this will not last forever!

I can remember too many times where I felt like a nurse on triple overtime while the world was out celebrating.  "No Holidays!"  It was just how our life rolled.  The very first time was when my entire family marched in the front door of our home, hoping to see a Thanksgiving football game as my husband and I were making our first home attempt at giving our toddler an emergency IV infusion for an unexpected bleed.  It only got worse from there.  The sensory meltdowns from fireworks had us watching from a car at a distance or in some other capsule of isolation for years.  Then there have been the times where we were in or at a medical facility around a holiday, which is NOT optimal.  None of the best medical care providers are on duty when the rest of the world is celebrating.  They are gone with the crowd.  I could continue with the stories of raging bleeds in the middle of the night at a family reunion, and anxiety meltdowns while the rest of the extended family mocks.  I will spare you all the stories.  I am sure they are very similar to yours.

Plain and simple, it hurts.

Take heart!  That hurt lasts only for a season.  I have found great relief in learning that this "No Holidays!" pain morphs over time because:
  • Our children may become desensitized to the sensory stimuli that are driving them nuts right now.
  • We learn to adapt and redefine "normal" in our lives, carving out a fresh way of enjoying our holidays together.
  • Our children eventually learn to adapt or advocate for themselves, learning that it will be okay if they hang back while the rest of the family goes to the fireworks, or if they avoid certain foods while enjoying the rest of the family picnic.  
  • We learn to set boundaries with family members or friends who lack understanding of and compassion for our child's constant needs.
While it may feel right now like the parade is passing you by, you are doing "what is good and right before our Lord."  Where else would you rather be than with the ones you love most during a holiday?  The heavy demands of our children's constant care may make us feel like we never get a break, but as we persevere in loving them to the best of our ability, the sweet yield of joy eventually arrives as that long awaited guest.

PRAY:  Father of compassion and God of all comfort, please strengthen us with compassion during the difficulties that arise during a holiday celebration.  Comfort us when others don't understand or when we simply can't attend all of the festivities that are planned.  Give us perseverance and the perspective that You will see us through this season of life.  Lifter of our heads, direct our hearts with gratitude towards all the blessings we can and do enjoy.  Thank You for all You generously give us, despite our sorrow.

~ Barb Dittrich

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