Thursday, June 23, 2011

En Garde!

Parents of special needs children often feel as though they are en garde, or on guard as we say in the non-fencing world. I guess one could argue that most parents feel that way at one time or another, but it's different with a special needs child. I don't mean to imply that "nobody knows the troubles I've seen"; certainly parenting entails taking many precautions because that's what parents do. For example, most new parents know that they will need to buy outlet covers and cabinet locks, to remove poisonous plants, to make the pet food inaccessible, to keep baby away from a hot stove, etc.

Most new parents also know that at some point in the not-too-distant future they won't have to be concerned with these things. This is where the parenting road diverges for parents of special needs kids. You see, my youngest son will be 9 years old next month, and I still have to be concerned with those things. In our house, I still need to do all of the above as well as ensure that he doesn't ingest non-food items; use an extra lock on the front door; remove the knobs from the gas stove; ensure that the gate is always shut; keep the car and the garage door locked, as well as a host of other things. He still needs help with bathing and toileting, as well as dressing, eating, and other personal care. It's emotionally and physically exhausting. It's also frustrating. It can also be isolating.

There is no way to convey the sense of being en garde without sounding like I'm whining, so I will close today's post with this: parenting is a tough and tiring job. Most parents look forward to the day when their children leave the nest. For some parents though, the job of parenting a child can continue even when that child has reached adulthood. So, if we look tired, it's because we are. Is it really all that bad? Sometimes it is; usually when I think about what could have been vs. what is. I need to remember to count my blessings even on the days when I don't want to.

But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Psalm 22:19

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