Life is a beautiful thing. It is also really, really hard sometimes.
My family has been more familiar with heartbreak the last six months than I would have hoped. I could list dozens of trials and aches that have come our way recently but the raw truth is that I am still far too deep into things to even talk about most of them yet.
On top of some incredibly heavy personal situations and struggles that surfaced, we have found ourselves white knuckling our way through some very stormy waters alongside our multiple children who have disabilities. We have come face-to-face with several new diagnoses, scary and painful changes in health, and debilitating behavioral struggles. It has been an excruciatingly lonely and hard few months as we’ve lived these experiences within the walks of our home in the midst of a global pandemic.
My entire life, I’ve never been a stranger to hardship or loss, but the last six months have taken the experience to a new level. There has been depression, anxiety, anger, and heartache. Life is hard. Being an additional-needs parent is really hard.
The conclusion I’ve come to is this: It’s ok.
We can get so addicted to comfort, to things being easy. We don’t know how to do hardship well. Maybe that is why becoming a parent to a child with a disability is such a hard thing for so many people. Even though that child will bring a million kinds of beauty with them, there will also be heartache and adjustment and maybe even pressure from the outside world to appear in the midst of it all like we have it together. But honestly: It. Is. Ok.
It’s ok to be bad at hard things. It’s ok to feel angry. It’s ok to self-isolate because one simply cannot deal with the small talk or questions or comments. It’s ok to feel depressed and not get out of bed sometimes. It’s ok to tell people you don’t want to talk about it. It’s also ok to tell them when you do want to talk about it, and you need them to just be quiet and listen.
Therapy is ok (and wonderful). Medicine is ok. Simply shutting the world out for a while is also ok. It’s ok to need time to process alone or with others. It’s all ok. More than anything, it’s ok to not be ok.
As caregivers to people with additional needs, our plates are fuller than most. When life blows in the storms that catch us off guard and knock us off balance, we may be more prone than others to finding ourselves barely treading water. We might not know the best course of action. That’s ok.
We may not know right away what the best next step is. We might not know how to share what we are going through or how to ask for support. That’s ok. Moment by moment and day by day we somehow carry on. And someday, we will have the incredible privilege of standing tall, looking back, and saying, “I survived that” as we trace the rainbow through the storm.
Press on in faith, friends, even if you are limping. It’s ok.