Amid the challenges of caring for a special needs child, this mother is determined to take time to live in the moment this new year.
By ANNA WONG
HAPPY New Year, everyone! Most of us will agree that 2013 and the first month of January went by too quickly. So I will pretend that we are just at the beginning of a new year, according to the Chinese calendar. It’s time to review my New Year resolutions.
Have more patience
I have been working on this for many years. I read somewhere that the same events will occur until the lessons have been learnt. I think there is a breakthrough here! I can finally turn to Page 2, but remaining on the same chapter, “Patience”. Kind of anti-climatic, right?
Well, it is a long journey but I am just glad I am able to move on. Most times, it is because I am impatient and I want to see results. For parents with special needs children (learning and/or physical disabilities), patience is all the more important because it’s harder to predict tangible outcomes.
For other parents in the same boat, I want to assure you that our kids are better for the learning they have embarked on. We don’t realise that, do we? We only know that they have yet to achieve the desired results. Take a step back, and you will know that the efforts are worth it. They have acquired some level of skills, the progress they have made is important and we should use that to motivate and guide them to improve further.
Laugh with the kids
It is easier to laugh and enjoy “mum-baby” moments with my younger son. At nine-going-on-10, he is still cheeky and mischievous. He is playful and is not resistant to cuddles and hugs ... yet.
My special needs daughter will turn 19 soon, so I suppose joking and laughing with mum is not so cool anymore. However, we do get to enjoy each other’s company.
On my part, I try to converse with her as much as possible. There are times when this requires a bit of effort (on my part) as the topics of conversations are not that of a young adult and mum. However, I remind myself that it is important for me as I need to learn and understand how she thinks so that I can be more effective in reaching out to her.
For other parents reading this, remember to always hug your kids and enjoy all the silly moments with them. This is one way to bond and bonding is very important when they are young.
Appreciate the 'present-moment'
I think I have worried less, so perhaps I can move on. Worrying is part of being a mother but I always ask myself, “Can I do anything differently, now?” If the answer is, “No!” then I will launch into prayer mode and ask for divine intervention.
I have wasted much time and energy worrying about things that never took place. So, now I try to be positive and do whatever is in my power. Otherwise, I will try my best not to think of the worst and worry unnecessarily.
Allocate more 'me-time'
We spend many hours taking care of our family, kids (and more so if they require extra attention because of their special needs) and hardly have any time for ourselves.
In fact, we are often the last priority and it didn’t hit me how bad that was till I fell ill. During those days, I realised I had to re-think my way of life, such as
payimg more attention to myself and my health. In reality, allocating time for exercise is a real challenge but I am quite happy to spend some quiet moments with a cup of coffee and a book.
Happy New Year again and may all of you make meaningful resolutions.
> Anna Wong will be giving a talk on 'Parenting The Special Child – How Do You Give Your Best?' Feb 22 from 9am-1pm at Secita Building in Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. For more information, call Wong at 012-372 3776.
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