The above image is copied from this article, well worth the read:
I have basically been “just a mom” for a long time now…my youngest just turned 18 and my oldest hit 22 near the end of 2015. However the even bigger adjustment than to life in mommyland came when our twins were born 20 years ago…and one of them had significant and complex special needs. The disabilities and medical conditions and multifaceted needs really transformed my life from “just” being a “stay-at-home-mom” to a mom of 4 (eventually) and one with significant health and other needs. I became a “Special Needs Mom” and we became a “Special Needs Family”. In addition 2 of my other kids, youngest & oldest, and my husband have been “officially” diagnosed with ADHD, while the other 2 family members have numerous ADHD traits, so our house is always hoppin’!
Over the years the magnitude of the tasks before me and the extreme isolation I’ve experienced (some of which is self-inflicted) have meant that I have become overwhelmed by responsibilities, complex decision-requiring scenarios, my need to “process” things in a safe and responsive space, historical hurts that have impeded my progress or even ability to seek support from others, the sheer volume of conditions impacting our son’s life (as in there doesn’t ever seem to be anyone out there to whom I can really relate), the craziness of the schedule of a 6 person family and attendant duties (sports, academic, therapeutic, & relational support, etc), and having to occasionally address my own needs to try to avoid or overcome burnout. Being a parent, and a special needs parent in particular, has intruded upon (and sometimes overshadowed) my marriage and other relationships. It can easily become an all-consuming vocation.
Now that all my kids are adults, in looking back on their childhood years I hope and pray that they can come to a place of forgiveness for me (just as I need to be able to forgive myself), for all the ways that I let them down in numerous arenas of what a mom is “supposed” to be and do. I’ve thought of my experience in parenting Josiah, in particular, to being akin to the scriptural shepherd leaving the flock (the 99) to go looking for the one lost sheep. So many times and ways Josiah has strayed from the family flock and has required me to go after him, to find a way to bring him home, and to help him learn how to interact with all the other sheep to some degree. Where I feel guilty, in part, is for whenever my husband and other kids have basically been amongst the 99 whom I’ve yet again left “alone” to go pursue that (same) one lost sheep.
Here’s a scripture that my husband shared with me years ago, and which gives me comfort:
The fact that God “gently leads” those with young means that he has patience and understanding for the plight of parents. We parents are split beyond just addressing our own needs, we have to also care for the needs of our young, and the Lord understands this. It’s sometimes hard for me to think of the gentleness of the Lord, for some examples of fatherhood lived out before me seem to stray more into arenas of harshness and criticism, so it’s important to take such scripture to heart and at face value, for me.
When we are in Christ’s Kingdom, part of His Flock, then we are those very lambs that He gathers “in his arms and carries…close to His heart”! He deals with us in tenderness and mercy, love and compassion, gentleness and patience, carrying us when we cannot carry ourselves nor our own burdens. This is especially true of those of the flock who also have young and those of us tasked with caring for another’s needs, like when our children are very young or when their disabilities and/or fragilities require our involvement more to the degree of what is typical for a younger, needier, more vulnerable child than chronological age alone might indicate.
Thank you, Lord, that you remember that we are “dust” and that we need You to lead us Gently…especially when we are responsible for our young. Thank You for placing this simple passage in your Word and giving your Holy Spirit to make it come alive in our lives. Please continue to lead, guide, and direct my life (and that of my family and you dear readers who share this prayer) and to do so in gentleness, carrying each of us close to Your Heart! In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen…