Special needs parenting is hard work, a fact guest blogger Amy Stout knows from experience. She also knows the part forgiveness plays in keeping a marriage strong. In today’s post she transparently shares how she learned how to ask for forgiveness.
The Sock Under My Nose
I am the proud and resilient mommy of a little girl who experiences special needs. She is my one and only child, so my introduction to mommyhood was and has been quite different than I had planned.
A Special Needs Mom’s To Do List
My days are full of making doctor’s appointments, researching treatments, following up on test results, updating family and friends via our Caring Bridge page, coordinating procedures, filling out insurance paperwork, appealing insurance denials, applying for resources, setting up and attending therapy appointments and all the other day to day tasks.
They are also full of convincing my daughter to eat (something she hates to do), prying her fingers off the door frame so we can bathe her (also something she hates), working on her speech, occupational therapy, social and anxiety goals. We have also been teaching her sign language, appropriate manners, how to request things she wants, and how to answer, “Yes, I’d like that” or “No thank you.”
Precious minutes are consumed explaining to cashiers in stores why our daughter does not respond when they greet her and why she does not make eye contact when spoken to. We also work to smooth over the hurt feelings of relatives and close friends who feel slighted when our daughter does not return their affection, behave excitedly over their gifts, or desire their hugs.
And yet, the general business of maintaining a life and home are still on the list to be addressed: laundry, dishes, preparing meals, vacuuming, paying bills, and filling the car with gas, grocery shopping, lawn maintenance, trash removal and so many other necessary responsibilities. The priority list must also include quality time to build, maintain, and nurture my marriage, friendships, a spiritual life, personal health needs, investing in the community and any private goals I might desire to achieve. My to do list is endless.
Special Needs Parents’ Marriage Pact
At 6 months of age, my baby girl stopped sleeping. She would be up every 2 hours the entire night, and it didn’t take long for my husband and me to become completely exhausted. We functioned the best we could, but throw into the mix all of the administrative duties of raising a child who experiences special needs and, let’s face it… we were beyond tired.
My husband and I learned quickly that we needed to make some ground rules and agree to be extra-forgiving toward one another as when we were trying to function in the early morning hours on next to no sleep, we found we weren’t at our best emotionally nor were we high achievers on the patience and kindness meter. We made a pact that any impatience or grouchiness toward one another that occurred between midnight and 7am the next morning, was never to be held against the offending party. Forgiveness and understanding poured forth in our marriage like never before.
Special Needs Parenting Frustration
On one particular night, when my daughter woke in the wee hours of the new day, I went to her room and began to attempt to rock her back to sleep. When I did, I noticed that she was missing one of her socks. My husband had stopped in to check on us and I sweetly asked him to please look for the sock. Fumbling in the darkness, my servant-hearted husband looked and returned a few minutes later telling me that he could not find her sock.*
During the daylight hours, this was a joke between the two of us and would elicit light-hearted teasing such as “If it were a snake, it would have bitten you” or “sometimes you might actually have to MOVE something to find it.” However, on this particular night, his inability to find her sock quite annoyed me and I was in no mood for jokes. I sarcastically informed him that socks don’t just get up and walk away.
So this time, using a flashlight, he picked up her mattress, looked under her blankets and behind her bed.
With every exchange, our voices were getting less sweet and more rigid and our (trying to be quiet yet insistent) verbal hissing became more determined.
Feeling quite irritated at his lack of being able to locate the sock, I requested, through gritted teeth, that he look again.
This time, he looked under her bed, by the changing table (she could have thrown it), and on the floor.
There was still no sock.
My daughter, who preferred to be rocked, facing out, was enjoying our nighttime communication dance immensely. (At least someone was having a good time)
When I had finally had it, I told my husband to come and rock our daughter so that I–finder of lost socks extraordinaire–could locate the sock.
Special Needs Parenting Forgiveness
My husband, still using the flashlight in a futile attempt to be discreet, approached the rocking chair. When he was about 2 feet away, he abruptly stopped. A purely mischievous grin traveled across his face and an incredibly EVIL laugh bubbled forth from within him.
By now, I was completely perturbed with my husband and I asked him what was so funny. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t even respond, and, instead, pointed to my daughter’s left side. I looked down and noticed my precious daughter was waving to her daddy. To my dismay, there, on her left arm, was the missing sock! Somehow, in the night, she had taken off her sock and put it on her arm like a sock puppet! The sock had been under my nose the entire time!
Needless to say, apologies were exchanged, a tiny dose of crow was consumed, and we have had many laughs over this very humbling story. My innocent daughter unknowingly played a very funny and timely joke on her very tired and overwhelmed mama.
Score one for her!!
*Note: This is the same husband who will stare directly at an object and insist he cannot see it. I am sure no one else experiences this in their home.
Score One for You
What lessons in forgiveness have you learned? How have those lessons improved your marriage? Leave your story in the comment box and make us smile. To smile even more, visit Amy’s blog at www.histreasuredprincess.blogspot.com.
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