Do you remember when you first found out you were having a child? Do you remember that overwhelming feeling that swept through your body? That was hope.
Do you remember holding that sweet soul in your arms for the very first time? For some of us, it happened right away. Others of us had to wait weeks or even months. But I bet you remember the way your heart skipped a beat when that tiny little hand wrapped around your finger for the first time. That was hope.
Do you remember her first smile? His first word? The first time your child did something they told you she would never be able to do? Do you remember how you felt? That was hope.
As parents of an adult child with special needs, hope is still a constant in our lives. Hope is what guides us as we help Dougie make decisions about his life and his future. Hope is what gets us up and keeps us moving on good days, bad days, and every day in between. Hope is not naive, childish, or weak. Hope is a source of empowerment, acceptance, and trust.
Parenting is hard at every age and every stage. Sometimes, in the process of caring for your child, you forget how to care for yourself. This is especially true for those of us with adult children with special needs. Even at 27, Dougie still requires full-time care. And, while we know that parenting a child with a disability is a blessing, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself, your relationships, and your social life.
But you can’t pour from an empty cup. So it’s important to remember that YOU MATTER. Self care isn’t selfish. Making time for the things that bring you joy and calm your mind and build your spirit is a necessity. Treating yourself with the same kindness you do your child will make you a happier, healthier person and a better caregiver.
Things to Remember
These tips from the Caregiver Action Network can help you prioritize
- You are not alone. Seek support from family, friends, and other caregivers.
- Take care of yourself. Your loved one needs you at your best.
- Accept help. Let people know what you need.
- Communicate. Being an advocate for your child means being clear with doctors and other caregivers.
- Take breaks. Prevent burnout by sharing the responsibility.
- Your mental health matters. Watch out for depression, and seek professional help right away.
- Keep an open mind. Consider new technology and new care techniques.
- Stay organized. Keep medical and emergency information close at hand.
- Get legal help. Protect yourself and your loved one now by planning for the future.
- Pat yourself on the back. You’re doing one of the hardest jobs, and you deserve credit.