Our family life is much like anyone’s with young children. We laugh, we play, we eat together when we can, we sometimes go places that aren’t medical or therapy related and we struggle with sleep. Sure, we are pretty busy with appointments and there are plenty of times of stress and worry too. Compared to our life before a child with special needs, those ups and downs do tend to be more dramatic, but that’s to be expected….we are on a different ride now.
Becoming a mother to a child with special needs has definitely changed the way I think in many ways. Perhaps the biggest change has been how I deal with emotions. I now liken the emotions I feel as clouds in a wide-open sky of my mind (I do live in “Big Sky Country after all). Composed of many little water vapors, clouds are made up of not just one element and are not tangible. They come and go, changing and morphing into different shapes, sometimes in common forms, sometimes quite unique, each person seeing what they need in a cloud’s appearance. Clouds can move by quickly, other times they seem to sit for eternity. But they are never truly stagnant, instead clouds are fluid, and always will flow on and transform.
As the clouds of emotions are flowing in my head, I have found that I need to recognize them, all of them. An overwhelming majority of the time, I see acceptance and happy billowy clouds flowing by. However, there are those times of fog and haze or forbidding black clouds threatening on the horizon. And sometimes those storms do come.
Of course, this does not mean that if I see a storm on the horizon that I might panic and immediately hide in our storm cellar. Rather, I still might want to tell friends and family what I see in our weather forecast because I’d like to prepare in some way, bring an umbrella or a warm hat. In the West, weather can change in five minutes and crystal-ball predictions aren’t really all that accurate anyway. However, being prepared is a plus, even for an unknown future.
Take, for example, Gia’s surgeries this year. She had her third set of ear tubes placed in January a few days before a much-needed family get away. Over spring break, she will need to be under general anesthesia again for a dental procedure and soon after that she will need a sedated hearing test. None of these are normally a big deal, but the relatively short time frame and the worry of adverse reactions have formed a guilt cloud on the horizon. I was also a bit mad knowing that she has to continually endure sedated procedures for many years. But it didn’t take long for these clouds to pass and for me to start planning by making sure doctors, anesthesiologists and hospitals are prepared for her today. After all, if it is going to storm, I’m having them all bring rain jackets, just in case.
So I have learned I need to continuously accept these emotional clouds in my mind because they are all part of me, not something to fight against. I embrace those emotions and recognize them for what they represent, prepare for what I can….then… Let. Them. Go.
And when I let those clouds flow, my, what a wondrous sky it is.