Something unusual happened to my wife and me this past Sunday.I’d like to tell you about it.
A complete stranger recognized our son from a video series he had participated in several years ago.
They offered a very kind review of his performance.
In fact, they were probably overly effusive with praise.But they then quickly turned the spotlight on us.
“You guys are doing a great job!” they told my wife and me.
Now, I know the best way to receive a complement is to simply accept it, but the whole thing left me with mixed emotions.
In reality, even though they commented on our parenting, they’re really just letting us know they think our son has an amazing ability to speak in spite of his challenges associated with Cerebral Palsy.
But instead of just accepting the accolade, I found myself squirming uncomfortably.
It’s probably because I don’t always feel I deserve it and that I’m not doing nearly the job everybody thinks I am.
Secretly – quietly – maybe I’m afraid that we’ll be exposed as delinquent parents.
I thought back to the circumstances surrounding the video shoot.
We agreed to let him partake in the film.
My wife accompanied him to the studio and when they returned, I asked my wife how he had done. Sheepishly, she said she hadn’t been really paying attention.
She was talking to a friend – something that I probably would have done, too, if I had been the one driving that day.
So, when friends started telling us how well he did, we asked for a copy just so we could see what our son had said.
As a father, I am extremely proud of my boy.
He is articulate and forthright.
He is a dynamite communicator!
In many ways, he is wise well beyond his years.
But if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I’m always quite concerned about how he might perform in those settings for one specific reason.
Foolishly, I’m afraid a poor performance will reflect negatively on my parenting.
Ironically, if he does too well, I begin to feel like a phony – that his brilliance really has very little to do with me!
Some might call that a classic case of an inferiority complex.
I might just call it annoying.
There is one person in this world that drives me nuts.
I’ve been fighting with him my whole life.
I’ll tell you who he is.
The “he” is me!
I consider the to-do list of my life.
Therapy, doctors, surgery, our other children, school, our marriage, work, car repairs, home maintenance – to name just a few.
The list is long and filled with things I’ve failed to get done.
Like the dream where the thing you seek is just out of reach.
Regardless of how swiftly you run, the goal always seems to remain just shy of your grasp.
Do you often feel this way? With a special needs child, it seems there is always something else we could be doing for our child.
If we’re not careful, it can become an obsession.
If you’re obsessed with one thing, it usually means you’re let something else go.
As a parent, it’s hard to maintain a balanced life.
It can be an all consuming endeavor to run our children from activity to activity or from therapist to therapist.
We’re all hoping for the big breakthrough that will make the difference for our beloved kids.
Sometimes, I worry my children will be in therapy by adulthood saying things like “My parents never took me to that one activity that would have made a difference for me”.
And when one spouse is off working, while the other is “stuck” with the kids the two parents have such a difference in days. Consider the dichotomy: One is tired of dealing with supposed “adults” while the other is craving adult conversation.It’s only inevitable that tensions and disappointments will start to rise.
Too much of anything is never a good thing.
We need water.
But if you drink too much, you’ll drown – too little, and you’ll die of dehydration.
If we spend all of our time on running our children to appointments, but don’t take the time to take care of ourselves and our other relationships, we do more harm than good.
We think we’re helping our kids, but we’re actually doing the exact opposite.
Workaholics have a twelve step program. Is there one for over stressed parents? I like to define this as an “Activiholic.”
And I would like to create a two-step program for its cure.
Step one: Like the slogan from a diet program - we need to push away from the table of life now and again. Spend a few moments on yourself and you will find you have more for others.
Use that gym membership, go for a walk, take a nap, visit your library and borrow a good book. We all need refreshment.
Step two: Involve yourself with other adults. Go to dinner with your spouse, signup for a woman’s or men’s outing or join a quilting circle or maybe a sports league. You need other adults in your life to keep you sane.
Ok, so I know this isn’t a cure, but a moment spent on another activity will help to give us the perspective we need to keep on keeping on.
Don’t believe the self-doubts; believe in your ability to get the job done.