Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Winter network

Special needs networks are awesome. We depend on each other for help and advice. We lean and love and ask and emote. We get to know each other and each other's kids, even when we only actually meet a few of them. Just like in real life, you don't want to admit that you have favorites, but sometimes a kid just steals your heart and you cannot explain why. You meet silent heroes, who just quietly help whoever needs help. You meet loud advocates. You meet loving families working aggressively to find normal and you meet crazy, loving families rejecting any semblance of normal. We admire little heroes. I have hundreds of amazing acquaintances and a few close friends from these networks.

But it is not all happy optimism, advocacy, and empathy. A disproportionate number of these parents suffer from anxiety and depression.

And at this time of year, it is especially hard. The kids are sick. Not all of them at once, but for the past several weeks, not a day has gone by without one of our buddies sick in the hospital. And even those of us whose kids are not currently sick, we are worrying too. Is that cough a first sign? Dry air? My sweetie, who healthy has more snot than most kids, is especially boogery. It doesn't gross me out, but it worries me. Can she keep her airway open? Do I need to treat this? 

We heard the news about the flu shot before you. We knew that it was going to be a bad year. That kind of information makes rounds in these circles long before it is mainstream news. 

This is the time of year when all the sudden, special needs networks take their toll. We pay in tears. We are tired. We are worried. Our friends are tired and worried. We work hard to stay empathetic. We open our hearts. 

Sometimes I wonder, are my out-of-network friends sick of my sick posts on Facebook?  I don't share every story, only a small few.  Still, "Pray for my friend whose kiddo is dangerously ill," has become a regular feature on my Facebook page. 

Today I am praying for the parents.Thank you for all the support and prayer and love you have offered.  Thank you for bravely continuing to offer empathy, even when it hurts. We will get through these months. Spring and sunshine are on their way. 

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