Category: letting go

June 13, 2022 by clearymf 0 Comments

Is Our Pain “Worthy?”

I found out this week that my company didn’t receive an award. We worked very hard for it; I even shelled out a substantial amount of money (for me) to produce a video for our submission. It was first-rate and I thought our chances were good – even great. So I fell down from a very high
mountain when we lost.

It was painful. We really could have used the recognition that award would have brought because we are a micro-business that needs exposure. I could have benefitted personally because I work mainly by myself and it would have been a real shot in the arm. But none of this happened and I was left wondering how to handle it.

After the initial disappointment, my next response was to tell myself that other people have much bigger problems than I do. “What about the people in the Ukraine?” I would ask myself. “The families whose children were shot? Those with terminal cancer?” I could go on – and I did.

No matter what happens, I try to convince myself that I really don’t deserve to feel bad or hurt or sad because there are so many who are worse off than I. I was listening to a podcast the other day where a politician who was badly betrayed by his colleagues was explaining his hurt, so
deep that he went into a year-long depression. But then he tried to dismiss it, saying that his problems didn’t compare to those that others in the world were experiencing.

But here’s the thing: he deserved to mourn his trauma because it was HIS, it was real and it was profound. We can’t judge what will send others into a spiral. We can’t compare our pain to theirs and say that they deserve to feel bad and we don’t. Our pain is our pain. And we need to own it and accept that we can grieve it without guilt.

Let’s be honest – having a child with a disability is a great disappointment. Yes, every child is a gift. Yes, our children bring us unanticipated blessings. But a big part of the experience is pain – often pain that we didn’t anticipate. Many of us don’t own that pain completely because we
know we are blessed to have a child at all, that we have had new doors opened to us because of it, that we have grown spiritually and intellectually through this experience.

But it is still pain. We want our children to be like the others. And we want to enjoy what other parents enjoy. So we find ways to cope, and one of them is to “excuse” our pain away. I’d like to propose that this is not healthy for us because it just gives us another reason to beat ourselves up. Yes, we are sad, disappointed, mad, hurt, depressed and a host of other things. And yes, we are allowed to feel that way, despite whatever problems anyone else is having. And we shouldn’t demean it by calling it a “pity-party.” These are genuine feelings and they’re ours.

As an old song says, we’ll eventually “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.” But let’s give ourselves a minute, a week or however long it takes to be sad and know that we’re OK to feel that way.

July 22, 2021 by clearymf 0 Comments

Letting Go

Letting Go – Not So Easy

It’s every parent’s dilemma – when to let go. Is it time to send them to day care or preK or summer camp? How many moms (or dads!) followed the school bus the first day your child rode alone? (Full disclosure – I did!) As your children get older, you’d think it would get easier but it gets worse because now they’re going out with their friends to a mall or concert, driving for the first time, or, one of the toughest, going off to college. The grey hairs on our heads are measured by each small slip of our grasp on our children’s lives.

What if your child has a disability?

For parents of the disabled, these events may be especially difficult. Each of us wishes a full and free life for our child. We dream of a time when they will be able to live and work as independently as possible. However, self-sufficiency requires the ability to be – well – self-sufficient. Many of us spend countless hours teaching our kids to do chores around the house, count money, travel on public transportation. We sign them up for jobs or volunteer work where they will acquire abilities that they wouldn’t have the chance to learn at home. But at what point is it safe to “let go?”

A Different Kind of Question

When parents are deciding about whether or not to send their disabled child off to some kind of independent living situation, there is one question that looms large: “Is it safe?” Of course, every parent worries about safety but normally developing children can be taught about danger in a way they will most often remember. For those with disabilities, it’s not the same; their ability to think critically is often hampered. When my daughter was working, we used to stay on the phone with her when she walked the three busy blocks from her job at Panera’s to her tutoring session, talking her through every street crossing. I remember once I fell down the basement stairs, and when I asked my daughter to call her brother, she just stared at me. Somehow, the shock of seeing me there made her unable to function.  

So How Can They Live On Their Own?

That’s the question we’re facing now – and we’re not alone. As we age, we know we have to plan for our children to live without us. We’ve checked out every option – group homes, supervised apartments, licensed residences, independent housing. We’ve run ourselves ragged visiting almost every model that’s available. Many of them were admirably run but there was always a problem – too far, too institutional, not enough supervision, caregivers would come and go. We found two places that had a wonderful setup but, in each case, the success of the operation depended on one very talented person. Suppose that person was no longer there – then what?

Are We Just Making Excuses?

Since we have a daughter, my husband is being especially protective. He keeps on saying that he understands it’s important for her to learn about living on her own. But it’s going to be especially hard for him to make the leap. However, I believe that if the right opportunity came along, we’d know it and, while biting the bullet, we’d do it. So far, that hasn’t happened and time keeps ticking away. And it’s not going to wait for the perfect moment or situation.

Will We Ever Stop Worrying?

Probably not. We’re parents after all. But for parents of the disabled, the worry is with us daily. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a parent support meeting where someone didn’t cry, because sometimes the questions seem to have no answers. So all we can do is be there for one another, exchange helpful information, rely on those who can help and create as loving an environment as we can for our children. And then we can only trust that we’ve done our best.