To the moms of kids with special medical needs, I see you. I see you in this quarantine, trying to hold it all together.
I see your fear while you hug your little ones closer and closer every day, as the apprehension of the future looms above you. I hear your prayers to whatever higher power you believe in, because I say them too. “Please, just let us get through this unharmed.”
I see the doctors appointments you’re avoiding, even though they’re necessary. The virtual visits you’re simultaneously thankful for and tired of, and the hours of phone calls necessary to get them covered by insurance. I see the aftermath of your child’s sensory dysregulation, loss of routine, meltdowns, and confusion written all over your face.
I feel your heart stop with every cough, sneeze, and wheeze.
I see the panic in your eyes when you watch people walk around carelessly, without masks or gloves. I hear you patiently explain one, two, and three more times why social distancing, proper sanitation, and flattening the curve are so important. I watch as you glance at your amazing kid while you’re talking, as if to secretly remind the other person that the life of the tiny human standing next to you matters. I hear your silent cries of frustration, because the child you created and love dearly depends on others being careful.
I see you in the wee hours of the morning, trying desperately to cram in a whole workday because it’s impossible to balance your kiddo’s needs and the demands of your job. I recognize your guilt for showering one moment longer just to have a solitary minute to yourself.
My dear moms, I wish I could give you the relief you so desperately seek.
I wish I could calm the fears in your heart and tell you it will all be OK.
I see the grief in your eyes as you watch your child regress without the medical care and therapies they’ve grown accustomed to, and I hear your worries that the time to regain what has been lost is ticking away slowly. I understand the hard choice of keeping your child back a year, because the deficits will be too deep. I know your worries about the return to school in the fall, the projected “second wave” of the virus, and the anticipation of having to continue “distance learning” indefinitely.
As your head hits your pillow at the end of the night, I know the tears you will cry. I know the looming depression that is knocking on your door, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to wreak some havoc. I recognize the emergency anti-anxiety medication that has now become even more necessary than it used to be. I know why your eyes glaze over when you think about doing it all again tomorrow, because your heart is just so tired. I feel the guilt of feeling that way, because you’re also so unbelievably thankful that your baby survived another day intact, and you GET to do it again tomorrow. The dichotomy is weighing on your soul.
I understand, precious mamas, your worry that this will never truly go away — that you will feel uncertain and fearful forever.
I see you look at your sweet child for one extra second as they fall asleep and wonder if anything will ever feel “the same” again, or if this glimpse of how fleeting life can truly be will become our new normal. How will we ever feel carefree again?
Please, my dear mamas, know you are not alone in spirit even though the weight of your responsibilities is crushing. Remember that you are stronger than you could ever imagine, that when the world makes you walk through fire for your child you don’t balk for a single second. Honor your ability to make beauty from the ashes.
You can do this.
Please know that if you ever feel truly helpless, there are people here to help. Contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or 1-800-273-8255.