To the (Desperate) Special Needs Parent at Christmas

To the (Desperate) Special Needs Parent at Christmas -

To the (Desperate) Special Needs Parent at Christmas

Merry Christmas! Or maybe it doesn’t seem that merry. Maybe you’re dealing with a child who struggles with a chronic illness (who has an acute one on top of that), a child on the spectrum who is completely off-kilter because of the changes in routine the holidays bring, or you’re ready for a major break from homeschooling a child with learning disabilities. (Oh, wait. Those are all my child, but your situation is tough, and you know every detail. It’s even disrupting your sleep.)

Finances are beyond tight. You’re looking at stacks of bills that you don’t know how you’ll pay, and more roll in each week, including ones involving situations you thought you’d already resolved.

You’re exhausted, and you’re just not feeling Christmas this year. Maybe you put up a tree and stockings. Maybe you didn’t. Either way, your heart’s just not in it. Some days you’re okay with just going through the motions, and other days you feel like it makes you a terrible parent that you’re struggling when your kids are so excited. But really, all the perseverating over gifts and activities related to Christmas, on top of all the usual drama you deal with, is wearing you down. You are done. You are over it. You just want to give the kids their gifts and go hide somewhere until Christmas and New Year’s are over.

You are not alone. You are not a terrible person. You can’t help the way you feel. Sometimes you just can’t get into the spirit of the season. And that’s okay. There are others of us feeling the same way.

And sometimes, just like God sent Immanuel (God with us) on that Christmas so long ago, He sends an angel just when you need it. He sent one to me last night.

I was waiting at the pharmacy with my girls. We had been waiting almost an hour to pick up some prescriptions that my younger daughter needs before Christmas. My kids were tired and hungry, and it didn’t look like we were getting out of there anytime soon. I was exhausted, and I didn’t know how much longer I could maintain some semblance of sanity.

Then a woman I have a budding friendship with walked by with her daughter. I admired her new hairstyle and highlights, and my younger daughter and hers eyed one another with interest. She asked how we were doing, and I expressed some frustration with the long wait. As they went to finish their shopping, I popped off and said, “Why don’t you take her (my younger daughter) with you tonight, and you can bring her back to me in the morning for therapy.”

She didn’t flinch, she didn’t get that “deer in the headlights” look that people get when they realize what taking care of my daughter for a night would entail: special dietary needs, medications, constant handwashing to reduce the risk of infections, heading off meltdowns, dealing with sensory issues, all of it. She just said, “Okay. I’ll dose her up and put her to bed with mine!”

Her daughter is medically complicated and a bit of a medical mystery like mine. She isn’t rattled by daily regimens that include watching for tics and possible seizure activity, administering medication, getting to therapy appointments, and everything else that goes with having a child with special needs. Her nonchalance about the whole situation touched a place deep inside me that I didn’t know needed to be reached.

It didn’t work out for an impromptu sleepover last night, but the girls do want to get to know one another, and the mom and I are willing to give it a try. A moment of desperation and transparency between two special needs moms has become a possibility of new friendships for both my daughter and for me.

Only God can orchestrate something like that. He is Immanuel, and He knows exactly what we need, when we need it.

God sets the lonely in families. . . . Psalm 68:6 (NIV)

Merry Christmas from my family to yours. You are not alone. We are part of the same family, and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

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5 Responses to To the (Desperate) Special Needs Parent at Christmas

  1. Rhonda says:

    What an encouragement, Jennifer; I pray this friendship blossoms.

  2. Jamie says:

    So many parents need to read this!

  3. Jolene Philo says:

    God-with-us sightings like the one you described are so precious and encouraging. Thanks for sharing this story at’s Tuesday special needs link up.

  4. Beth says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I need to hear that at this time.

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