No Guilt Allowed

No guilt allowed! Advice from Kimberly Drew for parents doing a happy dance now that their kids with special needs are back in school.

No Guilt Allowed! That’s what guest blogger Kimberly Drew whispers to herself as she adjusts to a quieter house now that her older kids are back in school. If you feel guilty about enjoying your freedom while your child with special needs is back to school, Kimberly’s words of wisdom are meant for you.

No Guilt Allowed!

I have always loved back to school week. Even as a child, I would wait with anticipation for the first day of school. I had clothes and back packs ready weeks before they were needed.

I have a daughter with multiple disabilities, two neuro-typical children, and a new baby with special medical needs. When my older son went to school, I cried on the couch almost every day for a week after the bus pulled away. My younger son is starting kindergarten in a few days, and I’m so sad about it. I’m going to miss his little voice and questions. I’m going to miss the time we spend together. Just like I did with my older son, I’ll probably cry on the couch.

Quite a contrast to the day when my daughter with special needs went to school. Then I made a cup of coffee, took a nap, and caught up on some reading on the back porch. The contrast of sadness regarding my sons and practically celebrating my daughter’s departure seems wrong. But if you have a child with special needs as I do, I hope you understand.

At first I felt so guilty about my reaction. It’s not that I don’t care or miss my daughter when she goes to school–it’s just that I get NO BREAK when she’s home. At first I love the closeness. I enjoy the all day hugs and finding new ways to entertain her.

But after a couple of weeks we are both over it. She gets her back pack and stands by the door. When I tell her we’re staying home, she throws a fit. I have an internal one that matches hers, but outside I keep it cool and collected so as to not aggravate the situation. By the time break is over, I’m happy to send her back to school and she’s happy to go.

I decided a few years ago to stop feeling bad about the difference between my reactions. I adore each one of my children. I don’t have favorites. I cherish the special ways we enjoy each other differently, how we interact differently, how we connect differently. Therefore, different experience will naturally evoke different emotions.

But the honest truth is this: I look forward to Abbey going back to school because the break during the day allows me to really, r-e-a-l-l-y look forward to and enjoy her being home. When she’s here all day, I get exhausted and even a little depressed. When she comes home after school, I can’t wait to hug her and ask her about her day. I’m charged and ready to change diapers, feed, bathe, give meds. The best part is that I can usually do that with joy.

You can’t change the reality that taking care of your special child draws you closer to each other in ways you could never have imagined. It also strains you emotionally in ways you never could have imagined. This is all part of the delicate process of learning how to love and celebrate your child’s life. But letting go of the guilt you feel because they leave for the day and you’re going to get a break, allows you to take a deep breath and appreciate being their special parent.

Is No Guilt Allowed Your Motto?

Have you claimed the “no guilt allowed” motto as your own? When’s it hard to live by it? How did you learn to accept it? Leave a comment.

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No guilt allowed! Advice from Kimberly Drew for parents doing a happy dance now that their kids with special needs are back in school.

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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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