Kindness to you!
As a parent caregiver, we are constantly taking care of someone, whether it's our child with special needs, our family members, our relatives, our friends and I even include the little balls of fur that complete the family. Okay, we agree, when you become a parent, you can't just think about your own navel, so caring for ourselves takes a hit while we find our balance. I put that in quotes, because it can be scary to think that the perfect balance exists. Sometimes it takes years to settle down and sometimes it never does, because our daily life is full of unexpected things. We just have to find our happiness in the midst of all our trials and tribulations and I think that comes from being kind to ourselves.
Know that all this is a journey. For example, in the first years of Jeanne's life, I had forgotten to include this element in my life and sincerely thinking about it, I don't know how I could have included it in my life with the choices we made. I made the choice to give up everything for Jeanne and despite the judgment, despite the collateral consequences that it implied, I was determined to give everything for Jeanne because I knew that the 0-5 year period was crucial (I'm speaking for myself, but I'm pretty sure that Eric would feel the same way about it). We were told that there was little chance that she would live longer than 5 years. I liken it to the war. When you enlist, you take an oath for your country and you literally give your heart and soul. You know that there are sacrifices to be made, you know that there will be challenges, you know that if you come out of it dead or alive, that there are consequences, but since you made the conscious choice to go on this adventure that makes you happy and proud, you don't really think about how huge the consequences are when you come back and that it will affect your whole family.
Looking back on that intense time, I think I should have included kindness to myself earlier. When I talk about caring, I'm not just talking about being happy or taking time for myself, I was happy and taking time for myself as much as I could. I'm talking about self-empathy, because, too often, we don't realize that everything we experience on a daily basis is fraught with responsibility and that we have a lot of knocks to absorb and manage. Let's allow ourselves the right to not feel well one day, and do so without guilt instead of holding back that emotion. Let us allow ourselves to take stock of ourselves without considering anything else. Our daily lives are a whirlwind that doesn't allow us much time to live our emotions because we can't afford to fall into battle... we must stay positive. Taking the time to live our emotions gives us the bad impression of being more fragile, weaker or giving up, but on the contrary tears soothe the heart and the pain. Emotional pain is like some disabilities, just because it is not visible to the eye does not mean it is not real.
To this day, often after I have gone to carry Jeanne for a weekend of respite, I cry in my car. I don't cry because I feel bad about leaving her, on the contrary, I know she is very happy and so am I. I just let my body naturally release the pressure and exhaustion that we don't allow ourselves to feel on a daily basis because we are unconsciously constantly in a state of combat or survival for our child. The example I shared with you is one of my moments of self-care that happens automatically and that I don't try to hold back, I just live it and afterwards I feel lighter and it gives way to put a lot of new energy in my body and my mind during the time of respite.
Thank you for taking the time to read all the way through. I invite you to share your experience with self-care by leaving a comment under the Facebook post. It will be rewarding to share your experience with other families.