There are a lot of fears associated with having a special needs child.
You worry about whether or not that child will become a happy adult. Will they find someone to share their life with? Have a family? Will they feel loved? What if they’re alone? You worry about them being able to care for themselves. Will they be able to hold down a job? Pay their bills? Tend to their basic needs? Drive? If they can’t, who will care for them? What will happen to them when you’re gone?
It’s not that these worries are unfounded or trivial, but I recently realized that at least 90% of the things I worry about concerning Luke deal with things that will not even come to pass for ten years, twenty years, or even more … if they ever happen at all.
The recent anniversary of the September 11th attacks had many of us thinking about where we were ten years ago. Do you know where I was? I was starting my senior year of undergraduate studies at the University of Miami, hanging out in my dorm room at the Stanford Residence Hall. I hadn’t even met my husband, whom I would marry just three years from then. I don’t know what I would have said if you had asked that girl where she would be today, but it would be a pretty safe bet that she would NOT have said she would be a married, stay at home mother of two with a special needs child.
I’ve always been a planner. Forget the five-year plan. I had the fifty-year plan, but having a special needs child does have a way of vanquishing type-A tendencies, revealing how any control you think you have over outcomes is just an illusion. Now, I’m adopting the five-minute plan. And guess what? I’m far less stressed because of it.
Wherever I imagine Luke will be in ten years probably won’t be farther from the truth, so it’s pointless to even think about it, let alone fret over it. So when I find myself getting dragged down by the anxiety of what could be, I just change the mental channel. I refuse to think about it. It takes practice, but it can be done. Instead, I make the conscious choice to think about today. Today is, after all, the only thing I can do anything about.
Today, I can meet Luke’s needs. Today, I can make him feel loved. I can celebrate today’s victories, and know that the more “todays” I am faithful with between now and then, the brighter ten years from now will become.