Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Not A Skill Set I Want
Being the parent of a child with special needs, especially when some of those needs are medical and life threatening, is a difficult job. There is absolutely no doubt that we need help sometimes. We need nursing care for our children – we need specialists like neurologists, gastroenterologists, therapists, and such – we need for our friends to sometimes help ease the burden by bringing us a meal, helping with our other children, or even just being available to lend an ear. But ultimately, the care of our special needs children, as long as they reside in our homes, falls to the parent(s). We have to learn to cope for those times when we don’t have help. We have to know how to survive the long sleepless nights, the lack of time to shower, and how to care for everyone else in the family. And 99.9 percents of the parents of special needs children that I know (and that’s a whole lot) do know how to survive, how to cope when support systems fail. But recently I have met a parent who chooses not to cope without support.
This particular parent is married and has two children – one with special medical needs and one without. This parent has a LOT of support – nurses, grandparents, friends. Neither parent works, yet they live in a nice brick home with a large yard. They are currently working with a contractor to add on to the house. The mother regularly has her hair colored by a professional and has manicures and pedicures very frequently. She has an active social life that doesn’t include her children, and shopping is one of her favorite pastimes. They never lack for food, furniture, or entertainment options.
How does this particular family make all this happen? Primarily through the power of Facebook.
Each day brings a ‘request for prayers’ for a particular need. This morning’s prayer request involved hoping Mom can make it through the day without the nurse who happened to call out sick. Sometimes it’s comments like, “haven’t been shopping in 3 days – going through withdrawal” or “my nails look so bad that I just don’t want to leave the house”. Those comments usually draw someone to meet the need.
Your initial thought might be that I am jealous of this mom. You would be totally wrong. I also lack for very little but it is because I ensure my family’s needs are met. I’m not fond of always having people in my house, be they nurses, therapists or friends who visit unannounced. It’s just not in my nature to ask, ask, ask of others. I am the giver not the taker. And it has never once occurred to me in my life that I had a right to rely on other people to make my life what I want it to be. So no, I am not jealous.
What I am is embarrassed. I can understand when people of a certain political party don’t feel Medicaid and other such programs are necessary if they happen to meet or know this family that I just described. I can understand when politicians say we should rely on friends and our church to help meet our needs and therefore don’t need social programs to help us. Thing is, what this particular family has honed to a fine art is not the norm, is not even close to the norm.
This mom has a skill set that I do not wish to have. I seldom talk about religion, my beliefs or my faith on this blog. But today I am making an exception. Long ago, when I first became an adult and then later a mother, I chose a particular passage of the Bible as my guiding light. It is Proverbs, Chapter 31, verses 10-31.
Look it up and you will understand why the actions of this family and this mother bother me so much.