Jennifer left on her first trip to her respite care home last weekend.
It’s something that’s brings about a mix of emotions.
Jennifer’s never spent 1 night without Odrun or I since she was born.
Not that sending our child away for a night is a problem, but it suddenly dawned on me why we were doing this…..
This wasn’t forced on us, we had a choice.
Knowing, that deep down, as much as we love her, we just need a break from her.
Knowing that, and feeling like a terrible parent because of it.
Feeling like we’re not tough enough, feeling like we’re lazy.
Feeling guilty for sending away an innocent, naive, defenceless child who is just being herself.
You can ignore those feelings if you want, but experience tells me it’s better to deal with them now than later.
People may not understand the mix of emotions, those people probably have healthy children though.
When Odrun put her in the car, she smiled, she reached out and made a waving gesture which caught everyone’s attention.
When she left I felt the relaxation drain through me.
I’d forgotten what that felt like.
We asked Emma to put her jacket on and get in the car, we’d planned to go ten pin bowling.
No baby to feed, no baby to clothe, no baby to strap in the car and no baby’s pram to worry about.
No medicine, no milk and no food, no nappies and no worries…..
It dawned on me just how much work she actually is.
I spent a lot of the night thinking about exactly that.
Respite care doesn’t just benefit Odrun and I, it benefits our whole family.
I couldn’t count how many times we say to Emma
” just a sec sweety, Jennifer needs……..”
Emma needs some alone time with us, and we need some with her too.
Odrun and I can’t possibly do the same things day in day out without that having a profound effect on our health.
Not only will Jennifer gain some important social skills from being around different people, she’ll come home to a relaxed, rested family.
Who will in turn, have the energy to give her the best they can.
As I went to bed she was the first thing on my mind, I just hope she’s not scared.
I’m sure I wouldn’t feel like that if she wasn’t blind. …
On the other hand I’m looking forward to knowing that we’re gonna sleep tonight…
And Sunday morning doesn’t involve crying, feeding and medicine. …
When she came home I picked her up in my arms, she growled at me.
She was upset, and she has no problem communicating her feelings.
Maybe she was angry that we sent her away…..
Emma cuddled her, ” I missed you Jennifer, I really did”
We all did, and we’re all gonna have to from time to time.
But maybe that’s a good thing?