By now, you've probably figured out that I'm a black sheep....a supportive, loving, generous, altruistic, DO-IT-MYSELF black sheep in the disabled parenting community. Honestly, I'd rather substitute the word "revolutionary" for "black sheep", but regardless, my opinions are my own and sometimes off-setting for others.
I serve through my own brokenness. I am not particularly qualified to lead, but I serve.
ADD makes it hard for me to sit down and put my thoughts on paper like this. Firstly, 5 minutes of focused thought is hard to come by, so this blog post that would take anyone else 10 minutes to throw together will probably take me all dad-gum day. However, I tend to work best at the last minute, and I'm fixin' to head out the door to my aunt's house this weekend, so I have to get this out! FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS :)
As the mother of a now 16 year old boy with Down syndrome, ADHD, and Sensory Processing Disorder, I learned much faster than most how much I NEEDED and LIKED my own space and quiet time away. I don't think I've ever felt "guilty" about leaving them with their dad for the weekend to give myself a break. I know how taxing being a parent is, and I know from first-hand experience what sleep deprivation does to one's mind and body. So I've made a habit of visiting my aunt in Warsaw, Virginia every Mother's Day weekend for the last 8+ years. My kids have come to expect me to spend my day doing something on my own. I love my sons with every molecule of my being, but let's be real, ladies.....
As the Founder & Executive Director of A Mother's Rest, my entire function is to lift other moms up...encourage you through the fellowship of our Facebook group (thereby encouraging myself by being mindful of positive posts).... organize opportunities to take care of yourself that you'd probably not take otherwise....introduce you to natural products that can make a monumental difference in your health and ability to emotionally and physically cope with the demands on you every day.
I acknowledge the sense of guilt many moms express. I hear it every day from hundreds of you. I respect how very real it is for you, but I don't get it, not even a little bit. What I DO get is FORGETTING to take care of yourself on a proactive basis. What I DO get is losing the woman you used to be...your spirit, your world view, your energy, your independence. What I DO get is the sense of grief you feel (and YES, it's grief) at not only the loss of the future you hoped for your child, but also the loss of the future you hoped for *yourself*. Every day is a constant reminder of it. We can celebrate all of smallest victories our children achieve, but you can not ignore those things your child still can't do or won't ever be able to do. I'm not one to "fake it til I make it". It hurts me. It hurts every day. I'm sad about it every day.
I spent a lot of time hiding this sadness from others. I've been a public figure for a long time, so I felt I had to keep those thoughts buttoned up. But I finally decided that enough is enough. It MUST BE OK to say these things out loud, because there is no healing, there is no moving past it, there is no "pulling up your own britches" until you CAN safely say these things out loud with other people who understand you innately; not TO them, but WITH them. I created that "safe-space" and kinship in A Mother's Rest and the blessing of our private Facebook group).
A Mother's Rest puts a 'different spin on Mother's Day'. I am giving you the freedom to rethink what Mother's Day has always been in your own life. AMR has (4) retreats scheduled this Mother's Day weekend in New York, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas. I did that on purpose. Maybe you're happy being home and getting chaotic breakfast in bed from your kids. Kudos to you, whatever makes you happy makes me happy. But I invite each of you to envision a Mother's Day that gives you the chance to NOT be Mom. You're on Mom duty 365/24/7. And sure, your kids may still like to bring you dandelions and draw you cards, and that is AWESOME. My kids are teenagers now, they don't give a rat's rear end about Mother's Day lol. But they can give you those gifts on Friday, and you head out the door for your own 3-night respite retreat. You have EARNED that time. You are WORTHY of that time. IT IS OK to spend Mother's Day sleeping, showering, finishing a cup of coffee, having meaningful adult conversation and laughter with other moms who understand your life. IT IS OK to spend Mother's Day reconnecting with your own self...reading a book, enjoying quiet sunshine, eating out with new friends (NO CHICKEN NUGGETS ALLOWED!)
One mom, who is traveling this weekend for her first retreat with us, posted an amazingly encouraging note to her retreat-mates as they all get packed up to leave today:
"Ladies, the day is here. Don’t worry about all the unfinished chores you’re leaving behind. If it’s time to go, GO. Leave the laundry in the washer, leave the uncut carrots, leave the dirty dishes in the sink. Get the PRIORITY tasks done and walk out the door. And the anxiety that’s rising as the day moves on is real. It’s real, but do not let it hold you back. Do not give it the power it craves. And if someone is crying or yelling or rocking in the corner as you walk out the door, kiss them, hug them, high-five them, tell them you love them, pray with them. And then walk out the door. You NEED this. Ignore the panic and get in the car. You’ve got this."
In 2019, you can expect a lot more than just (4) retreats over Mother's Day weekend. My goal is (10) nationwide. If you'd rather not be away that weekend, that is entirely your prerogative. But no one is allowed to feel GUILTY for considering it.
A Mother's Rest is predicated on PROACTIVE SELF-CARE. I know you're all weary. I know how badly you need IRL fellowship to share your burdens and shed some tears. Tears are a cathartic, healing cleanser. Don't fear them and for God's sake, don't hold on to them.
Some of you may be wondering "why shouldn't I feel bad about being away for Mother's Day"? Because I said so. Auntie said so. TAKE CARE OF YOU.
ENJOY your Mother's Day, and I hope more of you will join us next year!
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