Is it wrong to be a little selfish? I used to think that it was the worst thing I could possibly do and have had years of guilt over it too. I think that when you have a child with a disability it is very important for you to take time out of your daily routine for that child and be a little selfish. We are not robots, we are human and it is so very crucial that we remember who we are as a person, even as a couple; what did you enjoy doing before you had kids?
In the past I have tried my best to be the advocate for autism, researching and trying new things to help him. I have tried to be a good wife and mother to all my children and I have even tried to please others around me in my community and church all the while forgetting one of the most important people in my life….me.
If we do not cultivate and love ourselves as much as we love those around us we will suffer and so will our families. There was a time in my life, not too long ago actually, where I thought I would burst because I couldn’t do it all. I marveled at the moms who advocated for our children and spent countless hours donating time and money to the cause. I always felt that I must be just like them and I felt less worthy of a mom of a special needs child if I didn’t do these things as well.
I had a break through about 2 years ago when I lost my job and decided to start writing again. I had more time, but quickly filled it up with things I loved doing. I will be honest, living with autism, severe autism, every day is draining but when it came time to be part of the organizations in the city that would help him it seemed all consuming and I didn’t know if I could do any of it. I stopped writing and had to reassess what I wanted in life.
I went back to school to further my education, I began quilting seriously, I even have my own business now and I read lots of books. For me, it is so very important to be a little selfish with my time because I have found that if I do not take time out of my day, I will break. I have started running now and found that it lowers my stress levels and I can handle life more evenly.
I remember talking with my sister in law about this very subject a year or so ago and she told me that she believes that those of us who can separate ourselves from the hardships of raising a child with disabilities are the very reason that they have been sent to our families; we are perfect for these children. We are the ones that can handle it because inside of us we have the “off” switch which keeps us sane.
When you have a child with Autism, or any disability, it can be very taxing on you physically, mentally and most importantly, spiritually. Children change us, we become more compassionate and caring, and with each new experience we learn what unconditional love is really all about. When our child is born with a disability, these virtues magnify themselves by 1000 pushing us to a whole new level of understanding.
So, I would like to give a nudge, ever so slightly but with some firmness too. Take at least 30 minutes a day and do something for yourself, even if it’s only reading a book, sewing, looking at a new magazine or going for a run. Take this time and you will be re-energized and your daily tasks will seem so much smaller. Be a little selfish, you will fill happier and ready to climb that mountain again. Take some time, stop and smell the flowers and enjoy the moment.