Every Mother works. Yes, every one! I am surprised why work is still not made the synonym of motherhood! The choice to work full time, part time or stay at home should remain with the mother. And there should be no prejudices about their choices. We all get it! But is it this simple?
When I thought of writing about what makes women leave a well established career for looking after their child with special needs, I realized this is not what it looks like. The choice of working or not working is not easy and no matter what one chooses they are bound to feel guilty. More than a curiosity it was a need to understand what goes on in the mind of mothers when they take career transforming or life changing decisions of either leaving a flourishing job or juggling it with an ever mounting guilt for the care of their child with special needs.
A lot of mothers put their careers on hold even in case of typically developing children but that is different because once they grow up to be self sufficient these mothers can start afresh or get back to their field of interest, of course the long hiatus does make it difficult but in case of children with special needs this choice is not as natural or uncomplicated.
Lisa Jo Rudy, writer of About.com’s guide to Autism, and the mother of a child with PDD-NOS, Warns about “Parents giving all their efforts and time to their special needs child at the cost of interdicting everything and everyone else.” She further writes,
“Can you really live well (in all respects) if you are completely dedicated to your child? If you give up your career for your child’s needs, will you resent your child? If your child doesn’t respond to your care, treatments, or love — will you feel that you’ve given up too much? If you quit your job, will you be utterly isolated? Think about your needs and your child’s needs not just in terms of time but also in terms of money, sanity, self-esteem, and peace of mind.”
The exact same emotion was conveyed to me by Ranjan Sharma, a professional photographer and father of a girl with Down syndrome. He writes “Circumstances may or may not be in your control but if you are determined what you want out of your life, no one can stop you from achieving it. Having a special needs child doesn’t change much. If need help ask for it you will mostly get it.”
The question is ‘what do YOU want?‘ The answer should and must not be based solely on the circumstances because there are Mothers who are managing work, home and care for their child with special needs brilliantly. People like Ellen Seidman@ love that Max have given us a great example of balance. Ellen is a magazine editor, web content developer, freelance writer, blogger and a Mother of two. Her son Max has cerebral palsy. She writes across various sites and blogs to make people educate and aware about disabilities.
Some of the greatest advice by Mothers who are maintaining a great work life balance is here for all of us to read and ponder on…
1. Change Your Career
A lot of mothers find it easier to work in flexible time arrangement or in the disability field after their child’s birth. One, it gives them a new perspective plus an advantage to learn what can be beneficial to the child.
2. Appreciate The Distraction It Provides
In the words of Angela Patterson, About.com’s guide to Dallas and the mother of a child with Angelman syndrome, “Working is therapy for me. When I work, I tend to lose myself in it for a few minutes (or hours). I focus on my current project, not my child’s problems or her school. I write about the here-and-now things. I think working helps me to be a better parent. Just finishing an article gives me such a sense of accomplishment. Well said!
3. Basic Organizational Skills
There are parents who in spite of being at home are not able to devote as much time and effort as some full time working mothers can do and achieve. It doesn’t mean that either choice is bad or good. It just means that with some organizational skills, a lot can be achieved without giving up on your choice of life.
4. Taking Care Of Yourself
Even if you are a stay at home or full time working mother taking care of yourself should definitely be a work of priority. Balancing home, work and a special needs child is not for weak hearted and you should be proud of the fact that you are doing it to the best of your capacity. Pampering and rewarding yourself for the same can bring out positivity and help boost self confidence.
5. You Are Not Indispensable
Understand it, think about it and accept it. You might feel like you are the only hope for your child and if you are not physically around than your child would never learn the things he would do with you, but the fact remains the same, none of us are indispensable. Try and make them independent and create a network or a group of people that can come handy when you are not there. Prepare your kids and condition them for the same. So be there for your angels but at the same time do realize that they have a life apart from you and you have the same as well. And if you feel that you are indispensable, read this! It will help you put things back in perspective!
The Indispensable Man
(by Saxon White Kessinger)
Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego ‘s in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You’re the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.
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