It is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas carols, twinkle lights, and holiday fun. This holiday season can be wonderful but also stressful for a special needs mom.
One aspect of the season that I used to dread is receiving Christmas cards. I do love getting updates from friends and family I don't get to see, but often I would get jealous when I would hear about their year in review.
As a special needs mom, I could not do the activities they could do. They did not have the difficulties my family had. Sometimes I would get a bit snarky in my head, thinking “It must be nice to be able to…”
As a special needs mom I am always adapting. It is not just Christmas cards with happy families that can send me into a pity party. Wedding invitations, impromptu coffee dates, friends over, the neighborhood pool party: all of these are good things, events we want to be involved in, but the mental gymnastics and logistics I have to consider before I take my child somewhere can be overwhelming.
We are always adapting. We can never just show up.
Whether you need to be on high alert because your child may act out or steal something, or the place you are invited to is not wheelchair accessible, or you have to bring all the food to avoid a food allergy reaction, a special needs mom always has to be prepared.
It is hard to not envy others who can walk out the door without all these concerns.
But can I tell you something?
Envy has never served me in a positive way. It always makes me look at my world and the cup I am holding as half empty. Envy and jealousy isolate me. Envy steals my joy.
Jealousy can quickly turn to bitterness. Bitterness becomes resentfulness and anger and that is not where I want to be.
How do we manage to be content with what we are doing in life?
I asked a friend with a similar child how she managed and she said, “You have to live small.”
What does that mean?
I thought about that phrase so much over the years. My life has often been the opposite of small: a large family, large grocery bill, large laundry piles, and large problems.
Living small is stopping and noticing.
Look at what is in front of you; find the small blessings of the moment.
When you notice, your perspective changes.
Small moment living is trusting God for today, loving what is in the present moment, and not worrying about tomorrow. This is not life altering, big moments, big resurrection story type of living. It is just walking slowly in the direction I am supposed to go.
It also helps me not to look at the life others have with envy, but to be grateful for the life I have: the one that is right in front of me.