Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
Seven years ago, after my daughter was born and I entered the special needs parenting world, my three best friends and I made a pact: every year, we would make time to get together for a few days. I remember laughing nervously at them, thinking, “Riiiiight. Like I’ll ever be able to leave my disabled child and her sister with Daddy.” I felt guilty for even wanting a vacation without my family. I thought, “Is this OK? Is it fair? Am I being selfish? Do I reaaallllly deserve a break?” My husband’s almost immediate response was, “Yes, you DO deserve a break,” and he booked the plane ticket for me.
Fast forward seven years later – and I’m gearing up to leave tomorrow for my annual BFF trip. We’re going to San Diego for beaches, perfect weather, and Comic Con. I will be eating at restaurants that don’t serve chicken nuggets; drinking wine with straws and hanging out with others that have real names and not just Mommy. But I’m not just trying to make you jealous: I actually do have a point here. It’s coming.
Listen, it is so important for us to remember who WE are. Each one of us is so much more than the jobs we have. We are more than mommy, daddy, advocate, therapist, cook, cleaner, driver, etc. We long for time to relax and recharge, and it is vital to our own success to take a break. When we are stressed out, it affects our children’s behavior and mood. Nothing good happens. But when we take a break, not only will we benefit personally, but those around us will enjoy the advantages of a more relaxed and happy person.
Do I have to plan every detail down to the minute before I leave? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty when I leave? Sure. For a minute. But when I come home, I’m refreshed and ready to be all I that I can be…and plan for my BFF vacation next year.
Wendy McCoy Kruse is the CEO of Military Special Needs Network. She lives in sunny San Diego, CA with her Sailor and is a full-time mother of two: her 9-year old daughter Emily; and her 6-year old daughter Addie, who has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, deafness, blindness, non-verbal Autism, scoliosis, and a long list of other labels. Wendy is a member of the Southwest Region EFMP Committee and the 2013 Military Spouse of the Year for Naval Base Coronado. She frequently speaks to groups both large and small about advocacy and the ups and downs of being a military family living in the special needs world.
In her former life, Wendy was a Business Manager, Financial Planner, and high school prom queen. She has a PhD from the school of Special Needs Experience, and specializes in advocacy and general ass-kicking. Although she seems to be extremely busy, she wants to assure you that she creates plenty of time to play Candy Crush and watch very bad reality television.
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