Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tell Me How

Articles like the one I read today pop up frequently on Facebook. They are usually shared by other parents of children with special needs, or by people who worry about those parents. The articles offer important tips about taking care of yourself so you can take care of others. Unfortunately, most of the ones I have read offer no practical methods for implementing their strategies. Here's what I mean...

The most recent article I read stated that "Respite is a must for family caregivers", and it shared the advice of finding someone - family, friends, volunteers, professional caregivers - to help parents like me be able to 'recharge'. That's the first problem I have - tell me how to find those people to help me. I have no family in the area. My friends either are in the same situation as I, or they would clutch their heart in fear if I asked them to spend an afternoon with my medically fragile children. Volunteers - ha, ha, ha! And then there are the professional caregivers. They should be people you trust, people who would react appropriately in a medical emergency, people who truly care about your children. Unfortunately, I've not had a lot of luck finding such people unless I pay through the nose (which I can't do anyway).

But should a parent be able to find respite, the article suggested using that time for the following:
  • Take a break. Take a day or even a week's vacation. Read a book you haven't been able to get to and take naps. Really - a week's vacation. What dream world was the article's author living in?
  • Eat well. Plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins. Oh, you mean eating the scraps of my children's meals isn't enough? Or the cereal I have for dinner because I am too tired to make a meal?
  • Keep your medical appointments. After I have taken my work vacation time to get my children to their dozens of medical appointments, do you suggest I take leave without pay to get to mine? Oh wait, when I find a volunteer to help with the children, then I'll be able to see the doctor!
  • Indulge. Treat yourself to a foot massage, manicure, nice dinner out, or a concert. Sorry, indulging to me means getting in bed before midnight.
  • Work out. Yea, that's right, that's exactly what I want to do after all the lifting, repositioning, bathing, and wrestling with my children.
  • Meditate. Sit still and breathe deeply with your mind as quiet as possible when you feel overwhelmed. ROFL, ROLF, ROFL.....

I know the authors of articles such as this mean well. And, I know their suggestions are good ones and things I really need to do. But the reality is that it is impossible most of the time. I would love nothing more than a night out, a movie in a theatre and not on TV, a meal where I am not feeding someone else and can actually remember what I ate. I'm not much for massages and manicures, but a nap would be heaven.

I wouldn't trade my life with my children for anything in the world. Their hearts are joined to mine and always will be, and I will always do everything in my power to ensure their health and happiness. But I do think that the people who insist I must care for myself first need to come spend their week's vacation with me and my family - just in the interest of a reality check.

ATM: When Chip pointed out that the sky was orange and blue the morning of Ronnie's basketball tournament. Orange and blue are the team colors!


MichiganMom said...

Amen, Sister!

Deana said...

This made me laugh out loud. So so so true!