Words for Those Who Care

Like many parents, we worked to “get our act together” before we had children. Assuming we could shield our children from unnecessary hindrances, our six and half years of marriage prior to children helped us mature our relationship, our finances, and career options. Prepared as anyone can be, we welcomed our babies into a safe home.

But, Dermatomyositis did not respect our plans. In the end, that is okay because our children have learned grace and resilience and sensitivity to people who struggle.

Still, our world was rocked by what we overheard one evening from our two and half year-old daughter mere weeks into my wife’s illness.

My wife, Kathy, was severely weak in the first few years of her illness. So, she had to explain to our daughter that she couldn’t pick her up. Thus, our daughter, Emma, was learning to crawl into mom’s lap and find new ways of accessing her mother’s snuggles. We generally assume that children are oblivious to what the adults are talking about, but as the following scene unfolded, we learned otherwise.

Speaking to her favorite doll (Mandy was her name), our daughter calmly explained in her squeaky little voice, “Mandy, Mommy can’t pick you up right now because she is sick. So, you’ll have to crawl up onto the sofa and then you can get in Mommy’s lap.”

Listening from the back of the living room, my wife and I looked at each other with instant grief. Kathy swept into the living room and sat beside Emma to comfort her, while I was caught off guard by a wave of emotion that sent me to my knees reeling.

Our daughter was affected whether we liked it or not. Our newborn son was affected, and in an unexpected turn of events, we learned that our daughter’s baby doll was affected as well.

It may be that you are caring for a child, or perhaps you have children in the home of care or in the daily rhythms of care. They are not oblivious. They are listening and learning. Love them and trust them to process the adversity. The children in your world are more resilient than you might think.

Worth Repeating
No man is an island, entire of itself.

-John Donne