Thursday, February 19, 2009
Divorce shocker: imagine raising a child with special needs by yourself
Yesterday morning, I bumped into a woman I know at a neighborhood coffee shop. She has a little girl Max's age who also has special needs, and they used to be in school together. "I'm getting a divorce," she told me.
My jaw dropped. I mean, I had always thought they were a bit of an odd match—she is super-bubbly, charming and full of life while he is quiet and sometimes sullen—but hey, who was I to judge. What floored me most was the thought of her raising her little girl by herself.
If anyone reading this is a single parent, well, I am in awe of you. I need, really need, Dave around to help with Max. Although Dave doesn't like putting on the kids' clothes and could take or leave bathtime, he's always there to help feed Max. In fact, it's usually Dave who does it (we're still working on the self-feeding thing). Max has always had trouble eating—his tongue and chewing are uncoordinated—and when he was a toddler, feeding him upset me. Eating seemed like such a basic skill; how could my child not be able to handle it? Was he that challenged? It was classic I-have-a-kid-with-disabilities denial. Since mealtime didn't make Dave mental, he often fed Max and the habit stuck.
Dave isn't just there to take care of the kids, he's there to take care of me. He'll whack me upside my little head (OK, not literally) when I go on a worry streak and tell me that things will be OK and even if they aren't, we'll deal with them together. He's sweet, as you know, and he's so very sane. His hugs are the best therapy there is.
All of this was going through my head on the train ride to work. Can you even imagine raising your kids alone? (And we'll just forget about those times when you feel like killing your husband because, say, he has left the garbage out on the back porch and the vagabond neighborhood cat ripped the bag apart and scattered trash everywhere.)
Photo by V. Mason