By Kelly Wilton
To celebrate diversity, you must laugh in the face of adversity
I heard one of my favourite comedians say this just the other day. It was in the context of saying that even in our darkest moments we can sometimes find a silver-lining.
When life gets hard – as it so often does – a way of getting through can be to find the silver-lining, or humour even, in situations that can really get us down. For just a moment, try relieve an intense situation by allowing yourself to let go, encourage a bit of light and laughter.
When our kids are fighting health battles on top of their diagnosis it adds to the daily challenges they face and places additional pressure on us in our dual roles as both parent and caregiver. We are already operating in overdrive with tired minds and bodies; add an additional layer of health worries and we’ll just about topple over.
There are many times when I have felt stretched to breaking point and one of two things usually happens; I either bounce back from the brink, almost as if I am being pulled back by an invisible bungee rope, or that cord snaps, and so do I along with it!
The latter is not pretty (just ask my better half!). Yet, how many of us does this happen to?
I know that there’s also a tendency to add further to the pressure we’re under by not wanting to speak up and admit that things are hard. We somehow feel that by voicing how we’re feeling, we’re admitting that we’ve failed or that we’re not coping.
Why do we put shame on top of everything else we are facing?
We all face a vast array differences and challenges with our children but we are ALL doing an amazing job. We aren’t your typical families. We ARE different, and that’s what we celebrate on our great days. However, on our not-so-great days, we really struggle.
We’ve recently been in hospital with my son, in fact just a few days ago as I write this, and there were a number of times when I felt my old friend anxiety creep into my chest.
We had just finished an overnight video EEG and Mikey was fasting for his MRI which was scheduled for later that day. Of course, fasting for any kid isn’t fun, let alone one who has just endured an overnight EEG! So there we were – about five specialists crowding round the hospital bed, and us, and I could feel the anxiety and panic starting to set in.
I thought to myself – I am either about to burst into tears, or punch someone in the face. (Well, not really a punch, well maybe – it could go either way, right?!).
My son, who struggles with his expressive language, then decided to pipe up with a three word sentence. A huge accomplishment for him!! HURRY UP STEVE! A small pause, followed by, WAIT LONG TIME!
My son’s reaction to this insane situation where everyone was discussing his brain and the next steps for treatment totally pulled me out of my funk. It pulled me back to the present, my panic evaporated and I felt somewhat at ease again. Hearing those words, and just laughing at the wonderful expressive language I had just heard, all with great context, really helped me.
Our kids do have that wonderful ability to pull us out of our moods and worries. It’s all the other stuff that weighs us down!
The complications we all face in our lives are as varied as our kids and their diagnoses, but whatever the challenges may be, the fact that they exist unites us, it’s the part of parenting a child, or children, with disabilities that we all have in common.
We all want the very best for our kids and we sacrifice a lot to give it to them, including giving ourselves some very much needed (mental) slack from time to time. So the next time we’re facing some adversity in our diverse situations, let’s be kind to ourselves.
DO pat yourself on the back for the continual fight you put up for your child; for the enormous effort you have endured in the past, the present and for the future.
DO recognise that if you didn’t have the energy last week, this week, or even next week to keep up the fight, give yourself a mental break. Watch your self-talk. Instead of should, would, could – try – I need to take care of myself, so I can recoup to fight again – no matter how long it takes me.
DO know that even if you didn’t find the silver-lining today, you can always try again tomorrow.
Quite often it can be found in the reflection of the little eyes looking back at you.