The Special Needs Parenting Morning Dance

Guest blogger Kimberly Drew and her husband have been doing a special needs parenting morning dance ever since their daughter Abbey was born. In today’s post, she talks about how they perfected the dance and have learned to embrace it.

The Special Needs Parenting Morning Dance

The alarm clock starts buzzing from the other side of the bed and I nudge my husband with my foot to either turn it off or hit the snooze button. I’m not a morning person.

At all.

In my perfect world, children have no need to be up at 6:30 in the morning. I wake up naturally–around 9:30–and head to the kitchen for an undisturbed cup of coffee. I inhale slow and deep and take a reflective look out my kitchen window.

Sounds dreamy right?

It makes me laugh just thinking about it. We are in a phase of life that involves a mild and consistent level of morning chaos. Saturdays are often a break, Sundays are nuts, and Monday through Friday we do the dance. We have the morning routine of getting our daughter Abbey ready down to a meticulous science. What used to take about an hour when she was smaller, now takes about 30 minutes. 25 is probably more honest.

I like the snooze button.

Ryan gets her up and gets her on the potty for a few minutes. One of us does the diaper change. He gives her breakfast and meds while I do her hair and lay out her clothes. I pack her lunch, he starts getting her dressed. I jump in and help so we are both dressing her at the same time. I put in hearing aids while he starts her special toe-socks made by grandma. We each pick a leg and slap on her braces and shoes. One of us brushes her teeth while the other puts a bow in her hair and double checks the backpack. A last wipe of the face, I get her coat on, he puts his shoes on, bus pulls up, and we each get a two hug minimum and bye-bye wave.

Voila!

I think if you were to add music and a little slow motion it would look like a dance. It’s taken a long time for Abbey’s daily care to feel equally shared and predictable. We’ve worked really hard over the years to communicate our frustrations and expectations with each other. It’s not easy to work out the kinks and the bumps and the missteps. Around the time she turned 5, we found our groove.

It’s not easy.

It’s never easy…but it’s our life, and I think we’ve come a long way. The truth is, Ryan and I make great dance partners. Not the wedding reception kind, the life kind. I pray that you have someone in your life who is that person for you. I pray that you have a friend, a parent, an in-home caregiver, or a spouse who takes your hand and steps in time with you while you care for your child. If you don’t, I encourage you to open your heart a little wider and let someone in.

It’s no fun to dance alone.

Do You Dance, Too?

How about you? Have you perfected a special needs morning dance at your house? Now’s your chance to give a shout out to your dance partner. Have at it in the comment box!

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4 Comments

  1. April 23, 2014    

    Oh the dance we all do!! I’m sure other households (ones where there aren’t special needs kiddos) have their own rhythm of chaos. But, our brand of chaos is only kept at bay with routine, routine, routine. I’m usually the sole dancer Sunday through Friday (Dad leaves early in the mornings and doesn’t go to church with us on Sundays), but he’s got his own rhythm on Saturday with our 18yo daughter. I hear them laughing (loudly) and banging around in the kitchen (hat that part) and it’s pure joy to me!

  2. April 23, 2014    

    Oh the dance we all do!! I’m sure other households (ones where there aren’t special needs kiddos) have their own rhythm of chaos. But, our brand of chaos is only kept at bay with routine, routine, routine. I’m usually the sole dancer Sunday through Friday (Dad leaves early in the mornings and doesn’t go to church with us on Sundays), but he’s got his own rhythm on Saturday with our 18yo daughter. I hear them laughing (loudly) and banging around in the kitchen (hat that part) and it’s pure joy to me!

  3. Jen Jen
    April 26, 2014    

    I definitely have a similar morning dance with my daughter. It’s nice I read we are not alone.

  4. Jen Jen
    April 26, 2014    

    I definitely have a similar morning dance with my daughter. It’s nice I read we are not alone.

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.

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