Thursday, January 16, 2014

No Sewing Required!

We parents of special needs kiddos are pretty much exhausted all the time. No news there, right? I once had a doctor describe it to me as the 'intern life schedule.' You try and sleep when you can, only catching a few hours at a time. I honestly can't remember when I last slept straight throught the night, but I know it was at least 17 years ago (when I adopted Ashley).

We try so many things to help the exhaustion. We take cat naps when our loved one is napping. We close our eyes at work for a few minutes during our lunch hour. We go to bed earlier and earlier in an attempt to string together a few hours sleep before the first wakening of our child. Or, we sleep at odd hours.

So, take that kind of sleep life and throw in a healthy does of worry and stress, and it's no wonder I have trunks (not bags) under my eyes, and you probably do also. Even if I do get to sleep early and stay asleep for a couple of hours, the worry creeps in that first time I think I hear a whimper from my child's room, and it then continues to grow and mutate to the point where sleep was just a distant memory.

One of my goals in life now is to find ways to get back to sleep. Getting to sleep initially is no problem. I'm so exhausted that as soon as I am still for 30 seconds, I start to doze off. But even the exhaustion can't win in a battle against worry, so I need other techniques.

Taking a chemical sleep aid is not an answer. As you well know, we parents must be able to respond in an instant should there be a medical emergency. My reactions cannot be dulled by drugs or alcohol. I've tried 'going to my happy place' as some people have suggested. But the problem with that is my happy place also has a lot of stress. I think about a trip to the beach (my happy place). Then the listing starts - what will I do with the dogs? Is there a good medical facility close by in case my child has an emergency? Will the place we want to stay and visit be wheelchair accessible? etc. etc. to the point where my happy place isn't so happy anymore. But, I have come up with a solution - as I lie in bed, I wrap myself in an imaginary quilt stitched from the memories of special moments with my children.

For example, one square on my quilt is a picture of Ronnie's shy smile the day he joined our family and walked into his very own bedroom for the first time in his life. Another has the image of Ashley signing 'Mom' for the first time. And another has the pride in Chip's eyes when his middle school team won the Destination Imagination competition.

As you can imagine, with five children, now all young adults, there are plenty of memories for my quilt. And it never stops growing. My quilt is big and warm and snuggly with the memories wrapping themselves all around me. And it hasn't failed me yet in helping to get back to sleep. Perhaps it is just another way of counting one's blessings, but the image of the quilt wrapped around me gives another dimension to the blessings.

So the next time you wake and worry takes over, try making a quilt for yourself. See if it helps you as much as it helps me!

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