– Tina Kacirek
Recently, our family took a vacation. We were a large group of 9, with 3 wheelchairs, traveling in our 15 passenger van. After arriving back home, I felt a little hesitant about posting pictures. I knew most likely somebody would notice that one family member was missing and ask. To be honest, I really didn’t feel like answering to it on social media. There were so many wonderful firsts that happened on that trip and so much to celebrate, after a bit I ended up posting those photos. Soon the messages began coming in. I saw a common thread. All of them were from mom’s like me who were asking how I was able to do it without guilt and wondering how we explained it to everyone. They were sure they would be judged and misunderstood.
Instead of replying individually, I have decided to do exactly what I wanted to avoid, and share publicly. If I can ease another mom’s heart, I want to. So the following are some of the points my husband and I discussed in making our decision. If we are planning a vacation that can only happen very rarely, we want to plan for success to make good memories.
1. We considered what was best for everyone. A tight space, for long distance, with some special needs is not just hard, but in some cases, it can cause trauma to everyone around. The child we didn’t take isn’t able to currently handle the kind of constant transitions and changes in stimulation, without nonstop regulating.
(Others may not understand this because they see her in her “zone” for short snippets of time and after she’s been given much reassurance and direction.)
2. We considered past experiences. Instead of trying to make it work like we had in the past when the outcome was overcoming grief and bitterness, we looked at new options. We have 8 children and taking the one who cannot handle it, just to be together, felt unreasonable and insensitive to the others. After all they have their own traumatic pasts, and deserved to have some fun discovering.
3. We considered new possibilities. What if we disappoint that one child for a while, only for her to discover she had a blast without us? We created a vacation of sorts for her too. We brought in my brother, whom she adores, to stay with her and give her one on one attention. She had grandma with her too. She stayed in the familiar place and didn’t have to share attention. For her, that is heaven. She made memories that were new and special to her, and when we returned she was more excited to tell us about her adventures, than to know about the trip we were on.
The one question I kept getting was, “Do you feel guilty?” The answer is, I felt many things. Guilt didn’t come from within, it was an emotion that wanted to creep up when I thought about trying to explain to those who don’t understand. I wish that things were different but we can’t live our lives to the fullest trying to force something that can’t be. I felt incredible relief to do things I hadn’t been able to do in years. And it’s not relief like, “If she were just gone, life would be great” kind of feeling. When you love someone you don’t wish them away. It’s more like my brain wasn’t so full. I didn’t have constant vigilance. I could soak in new ideas, and joke around freely. It was beautiful and pleasurable.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
To Mom’s caring for children with special needs, from trauma and/or attachment disorders:
You were chosen and being equipped to care for your child. You are not perfect and you have real desires and needs of your own. You are not selfish for feeling like you need a break from your child. You are not mean, unloving or insensitive. You are human, not super human. We become tired too and need rest for our bodies and mind. The rest of the world doesn’t see what we see, and if they walked in your shoes, they would embrace you, hear your heart cry, and never again read you as harsh, controlling, overly sensitive, etc…. They would see what I see: A mom who cares to protect, nurture, love, teach, and lead their children in peace and truth.
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24
I have to choose to understand that people who dismiss my concerns or quickly judge, do so off of their experiences. Most outsiders don’t realize that much of the heartache and trials mom’s like us face come from snap judgments that put us in precarious scenarios that require fast response and sometimes a long clean up with our children later. When they sweetly said, “You are so adorable, I could just take you home with me!” they had no idea what they set off for you to clean up. And so when you try desperately to figure out how to both express kindness in response but know you have to stop the sick thought process developing right now inside of your child who thinks they may be getting a new parent, well, you and I tend to look “off.”
I want to be the best mom, too. I want every single one of my children to know that I am for them, with them, present. The only way I have ever learned to do that, is by getting away from them long enough to become replenished by God. No guilt in that at all. God himself tells us how important resting in Him is. We are still trying to learn this balance ourselves. One thing I have learned though, with all the best of intentions and love in my heart, I will not please everyone. Someone will always be offended. There’s always going to be those who hate you, make fun of you, etc. Just keep going. Those attempts at guilting you that the enemy of your soul takes is because you do something so rare and extraordinary in this world and it is threatening. You live to bring healing to broken hearts. What a precious gift from God you are. And we can only bring healing, when we are living out of the power God constantly fills us with.
Look inward, you will see your lack. Look up and you will see your life – the amazing one your heavenly Father has for you. I encourage you today not to shrink back anymore but to walk confidently that you are precious, important, deserving and created for much needed rest.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5