Essays, parenting

Virtues For a Special Needs Parent: Part 2

In case you missed the first post, I’m writing a bit about virtues – this series, in particular, focuses on the Charge of the Goddess, and how it applies to us special needs parents.

I have to admit, one of the reasons I broke these up was that I got through Strength and Beauty, and then sat and stared at Power and Compassion for several weeks, not even knowing where to start. Interestingly, it became clear to me the morning I started writing this what I needed to say – there have been too many examples this week to be considered coincidence.

This week’s virtues from the Charge of the Goddess are Power and Compassion.

It may be different for other special needs families, but I see Power and Compassion as a really tense balancing act at our house.

Besides his pediatrician, Acorn sees more than a half dozen doctors, and another half dozen therapists. When he was in the hospital, there were even more. Many of these professionals are good people, who try to do the best they can for the kids in their care. But a surprising number of them get tied up in the idea of being “in charge” of Acorn’s treatment plan to varying degrees, and forget that he’s a child with wants and needs beyond their little corner of the world, and that we (his parents) have a wide variety of things to balance.

Acorn has a lot of anxiety about doctors, nurses, and medical procedures, as is to be expected. You would think that the various medical staff people that he deals with on a regular basis would be more compassionate – more willing to compromise, more willing to take things at his speed. “Power Over” is the usual way things work in the medical world, rather than “Power With.”

Frankly, if they were more willing to talk to him about what they’re doing before they start rather than, “mom, please hold him while I…” as they start pulling and pushing and making him do what they want, that’d be an improvement.

More than that though, we parents embody this balancing act as well. We have to discern which things in our children’s lives we have power to change, which things our children have the power to change, and which things are not in our power at all. We have to know when to show compassion when our child struggles, and when to be stubborn and make them keep trying.

And we have to watch how we interact with other parents. When someone else feels overwhelmed in a situation far less intense than what we’re currently experiencing, a lot of us struggle with compassion, and that struggle comes from wanting to control our own situation – from wanting the power to make our situation less intense, and from wishing the other parent had compassion for us and our struggles, instead of being so self-centered.

I’d like to think that I’m learning a lot about balancing power and compassion on this journey, but there are days I really wish I had more power and didn’t need so damn much compassion.

Again, all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals – use the power you have wisely, and try to be compassionate, especially when you most wish to not be.

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