Can I really trust others with my child?
This weekend my husband and I were so excited go out for a long awaited date night away from our 3 kids. We were planning to send them down to grandparents Saturday morning, but our daughter woke up early Friday morning with pain in her arm. NOOOOOOO! With another date-night slipping through our hands I decided to consider something I have never honestly thought to do in our 10 year Sickle Cell journey: send my kids off even though they are having pain. Honestly initially only guilt flooded my head and heart when the thought first came to me. How can a parent send a child out knowing they were not 100%, knowing that at any time I could get a call that that pain has intensified and would have end our date night early anyway? What was the point?
Yet, luckily, after my moments with guilt a few other thoughts came to mind:
There is more to who I am than being mom and in order to be a better parent/spouse I have to carve out time and space for the other parts of me to shine. And yes, I really mean carve because it really takes effort for me to practice self-care.
It takes a village for my husband and I to raise our children. And Jason and I have a community that is really willing and able to support us. Often times I have come to realize that we normally shy away from asking for help or allowing people into our world, especially when the kids are not feeling well, because it just seems so exhausting to engage during that time. I do recall once, when our daughter was in a pretty nasty pain crisis, however, and we were on day three of no sleep I decided reach out to friends. I simply asked if folks were willing to bring meals over for the next few days because I was just unable to cook anything during that time. We had meals for the next 4 days and a refrigerator full of snacks! We were so grateful.
I also realized that I simply do not trust that anyone else can really care for our kids the way my husband and I do every day. As a parent you can easily forget just how much you do in a day to keep pain from your knocking at the door: make sure they sleep well, make sure the room is warm, make sure they eat healthy throughout the day, make sure they are bundled up well before going outside, make sure they try to avoid being around people who might have a cold or flu symptoms, make sure they are drinking lots of water throughout the day, and the list goes one. It can be exhausting as a parent let alone trying to explain this all to another person. And don’t even think about adding in the care plan if they we having pain or not feeling well. Honestly this is why it has been so easy for us to just handle everything in-house. And so when our daughter was not feeling well this Friday we knew it was time to call the grandparents and cancel.
But then a final thought came to my mind: what do I want to teach my kids about the importance of self-care ? What do I want them to know about trusting others and building their own community? If we as a family always succumb to the nagging inconvenience that Sickle Cell can bring we will never be able to live beyond the limits that it sets for us.
And so with that I called my mom and told her we were on our way. When we arrived we gave her all the information she needed to care for our daughter. We gave her the heating pads and a bag of groceries that we use to care for pain naturally. We gave her the Ibuprofen and wrote down the times she needs to administer it. I told her to call immediately if she felt the pain was not be managed. We reminded her about the importance of staying active, eating good, drinking lots of water and getting to bed on time. And then I told my mom thank you and how grateful I am to have her as part of our village. And with that I kissed all 3 of my babies, grabbed Jason’s hand and walked out my mom’s house on our way to that long-awaited much needed date night. (Well actually she had to kick us out!)
Lesson Learned: It is important to identify a few people you trust that could care for your child in case of emergency. Work with your health care providers to develop a care plan that can be used to educate and inform those who may at any time need to care for you child in your absence (i.e, school teacher, church teachers, coach, grandparents, relatives, friends, etc.) If you have not done this the best time is now!