“Michele, I was waiting for you to call and tell me what time you needed me to come watch the girls.”  This was the voice on the other end of the phone, and it belonged to a dear friend.

” Oh, Chris. John and I decided we would just stay home, you know, it was easier.”  My reply lacked strength.

“Michele you know Elizabeth would have been fine with me, we would have had a lot of fun,  I even had some fun toys to bring over for us.  You really need to let this happen next time!”

” I know…you’re right, but……………………………………………….

Famous last words correct?

That conversation was one I had with a dear friend, a worker I had met at the rehab center, years ago, where Elizabeth would go for her Occupational Therapy every week.

Elizabeth was young at this time and deep in the throes of her SPD.  I was so afraid to let this special person take care of Elizabeth.  But the truth was, John and I could have very much used and enjoyed a night out.  But my fear of a meltdown from Elizabeth, that Chris might not REALLY know how to handle her made me want to stay home.  So quite obviously, we did not go…………

Raising typical children can exhaust parents to the point of seeing bedtime almost as a finish line that they can cross with their arms up in the air in victory.  For those who are raising a special needs child that arms-in-the-air moment comes after a day that includes activities and situations foreign to those raising typical children.  The exhaustion can be so completely overwhelming.  It can come from both the physical and mental toll that raising our special children brings.

Sometimes we feel that one WE can be the ones to care for our child, that WE are the ones that do it the best.  I will speak for me at this point and YES, I guess I thought that no one could understand Elizabeth’s needs as well as me and John and no one could help her like we could.  I have learned in the many things in the  years that we have been raising this wonderful, amazing child.  One of the biggest things I learned and want to share now, is that it is okay to hand the baton to someone else for a bit…..it is okay to have those special people who possess special gifts to share them with your child….it is okay to take a moment to allow someone else in and it is okay to be happy to be without that baton for a bit.

Had I allowed Chris to babysit Elizabeth that night, I am sure she would have shared part of her great self with Elizabeth and given Elizabeth the chance to have fun with her.

I am not saying that all would have gone well that night, that suddenly Elizabeth would have lost her SPD and dyspraxia and had the perfect night, just that if we pick the right person and time, our children will benefit as will we.

I offer these thoughts out this week as many of us are so very tired from the demands of the past 18 month, that maybe it might be time to say that self care can move up on the list of things we make sure to do each day. Trust me, I may have written this blog and advice but I need to listen to it as well. Maybe my little story can help raise awareness for the need to be honest with those who are our trusted family and friends, who may offer to help or maybe the awareness to ourselves to nurture ourselves.  Maybe it can be the beginning of a habit making thing.

Flash to 2021……Elizabeth is getting some of her world back after EVERYTHING but is adjusting to the fact that even those things take on a new look. And I feel really happy for Elizabeth. I have seen so many new avenues are open up for her by my letting those special people in, that it is okay to look down at my hands and not see that baton I imagine to be there.  Instead, I look around at these people and imagine the baton in their hands for a while. I know that I will get that baton back later in the day but for now….I can know she is growing from the gifts of others.

I hope everyone has a peaceful week and please wear a mask!

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself