Banishing Worry and Guilt — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Banishing Worry and Guilt

by Deborah


Tomorrow morning, my birth son, Chip, will graduate with honors from high school. Pride will be foremost in my heart, but I must admit that for many, many years, guilt and worry were the emotions that occupied me.

Chip has three adopted siblings, and they all have significant special needs. Throw into that mix the fact that I am a single parent, and you can probably imagine the thoughts that were ever present in my mind.

Would Chip resent the fact that so much of my time was spent caring for his siblings?

Would he harbor the anger of missing a Little League game because his sister was in the hospital?

Would the embarassement caused by his siblings’ behavior finally be too much for him to handle?

Would he always wonder why I spent so much time and money fighting for his sister’s educational rights?

Would he get tired of the endless conversations with doctors, attorneys, advocates, and anyone else who would listen to the issues his siblings faced.

Would he feel like his upbringing played second fiddle to that of his siblings?

I’m sure I will always wonder about those things, but I must admit, it now seems like having such siblings has made him a stronger, more mature, more compassionate and committed young man.

Chip was accepted into every college to which he applied. He chose the one closest to home. He has a summer job at that college working in the biomedical engineering lab to develop a vibro-tactile device to teach geometry to students who are blind.

Chip has written thank you notes to every person who has given him a graduation gift or a scholarship for college. He went shopping yesterday for a new suit and other ‘grown up clothes’.

Chip has a financial plan in place so he can start his post-college life with no debt. He knows how to cook, clean, do laundry, and which piece of silverware to use at a fancy dinner. He is concerned about his carbon footprint.

Chip helps our elderly neighbors with yard work and other household jobs they may need done. He likes to buy me and his siblings dinner occasionally, and he offers to stay home with his siblings (no small task) so I can go out with friends.

In short, despite all my worries and guilt, Chip has turned out to be a fine man.

I won’t tell you not to worry if you have children both with and without disabilities. But I will tell you that the things I once viewed as negatives were really positives. I am now officially kicking guilt and worry to the curb!

Deborah can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Wednesday, and can also be found at Pipecleaner Dreams.

Email Author    |    Website About Deborah

In addition to her job as a computer engineer and her single parent responsibilities, Deborah is president of a state-wide family support group for families whose lives are touched by deafblindness, and is a tireless advocate for all people with disabilities. She writes at Pipe Cleaner Dreams and her writing has also been featured in local magazines and newspapers. Ashley’s story has also been chronicled in a book by Jonathan Mooney titled Short Bus Stories.

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1 The Gang's Momma June 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Congrats Chip. It’s a big achievement for you. And for your family.

And congrats, Mom. Sounds like you raised quite an amazing young man. No small feat for you either.

2 Heidi June 10, 2009 at 10:06 pm

I have been worrying about those things just today as I am trying to figure out how much therapy my family can handle.

Great post and a great kid!

3 Take A Walk On The Happy Side June 11, 2009 at 10:43 am

Thanks for this story. Timing is perfect for me. My 7-year-old daughter is acting out lately and I think it has to do with all the attention her 4-year-old identical twin brothers who happen to have Down syndrome get from absolutely everyone we come in contact with… and yes, from me too… I mean, there’s 2 of them to take care of and they need a bit more care than their same-aged peers so…. She’s an absolutely wonderful person and great kid but she’s giving ME a run for my money lately. Not listening, not doing, yelling and being a tad beligerent. Not a good year! God help me. I hope she grows out of it soon and becomes a responsible and NICE person like your Chip. In the meantime, I’m still in the throes of the guilt and worry. I use the worry as a catalyst to keep her needs and emotions at the forefront of my thoughts and actions.

Thanks for sharing — I’m glad to hear there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

4 Deborah June 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Take a Walk, trust me, it has not always been all rainbows and ponies :) I have had some really rough times with my oldest son, especially when he was younger. He had to deal with a lot – my ex-husband abandoning us, his adopted siblings, and all the normal childhood angst that came his way. There was many a night when I cried myself to sleep thinking I was a horrible mother and wondering if getting back together with my abusive, alcoholic ex would be better for Chip. Thankfully, I didn’t follow that path.

I started seeing Chip grow into the fine person he is today when he entered high school. There is hope and even though we have to slog through the bad times, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Hang in there, and email me privately anytime you want :)

5 MMC June 12, 2009 at 7:23 am

You should be very proud of him. As you rightfully are. I keep trying to tell myself that kids with special siblings grow up to my kinder, more caring and compassionate people. Thanks for sharing some real-life proof.

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