My wise mum had lots of sayings. Some have stuck and my two favourites were ‘pick your battles wisely’ and ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
I’ve witnessed the latter no more so than this past year.
Let’s start with Aine. 2017 was the year we started regular, structured respite. One night, every week, off she goes with her overnight bag and she sleeps out. She goes straight to school the following morning, meaning I get a night and a day off from the challenging routines. We all do. And she has a lovely night being looked after like a princess!
It wasn’t something that came easy, letting my girl go to someone else’s house to sleep over. I battled with someone else getting her ready for bed, putting her to bed and being there when she woke up. I was scared about not being the person that covered her ears when she had a seizure.
But I recognised the need.
It came as a bit of a shock when we were assessed as needing weekly input. I had to coach myself out of the guilt I felt. Not just the mum guilt, but the guilt of taking social care monies when things weren’t really that bad.
Looking back at this makes me shake my head at my poor deluded self. Things were that bad, for me anyway, I was at breaking point some mornings. Especially now I had a little one starting school …..
So now I had another one to add to the mix. (Just so you know what a super woman I really am I also drive the biggest to school six miles away three days a week.). So yes, the littlest had come of school age. I now had to juggle waiting for the school bus for Aine, getting him and the biggest to school, in an impossible window of time! Enter my friends. Three mornings a week I drop him at friends’ houses to be taken to school along with their own children. And two evenings a week the biggest has to hang behind to give me time to get to school to collect her. I’ve also relied a few times on friends to collect the littlest for me as well. Especially on work/Aine sick days when quite frankly I don’t quite know how I do it, I just know I rely on people to help. And they don’t have to. These aren’t paid people. They just do it to help me out of a sticky situation because they’re kind.
More recently I’ve welcomed new people into my life in the form of more school mums. Due to a recent bout of winter sickness I was unable to attend my son’s fifth birthday party. The first party he’s really been aware of, the first one when he has said who he wants to invite (everyone). I was beyond gutted and seriously contemplated cancelling for fear of giving the whole community Norovirus. Well MrM was having none of it and put his foot down. ‘It’s going ahead if it’s just me and him bouncing on a castle’, he informed me. (Masterful I know)
So it did. I notified all mums in advance that the plague was upon our house and how we would understand if the fear of their child catching it kept them away (special needs mums are always mega cautious about contagious conditions). But they came anyway. And not only that they offered to bring/make food, laid out the food so MrM could focus his attention on Ned and pretty much took charge, judging from the photos of him fooling around with cheesey puffs for tusks! I don’t know these ladies all that well, except for one anyway. But that didn’t stop them. They saved me and MrM an enormous amount of stress. I also had another mum volunteering to pick Aine’s medicine up from the doctors the other day.
I am beyond grateful for all these people in my life and the support that they give us and I hope there is the opportunity for me to payback sometime.
The key thing I’ve learned in 2017, and that I hope you can see too, is that it is ok to let go. It’s ok to let someone pick up the excess. It’s ok that I can’t do everything myself, because it takes a village to raise a child and thankfully, I have that village.