We have both had a lot of experience in giving help. Whether at work, at church or elsewhere, helping is usually a rewarding experience (no wonder I became a therapist myself). You make a difference in someone’s life, people are thankful and it feels good. I believe there is even such a thing as ‘helper’s high’, a euphoric feeling you get from helping someone and a pleasant calm afterwards. Once you are aware of this, you would never do anything else!
Receiving help was a lot more rare in our lives. Usually centered around a specific event such as moving or having the flu for a week.
And asking for help… we almost never needed it and certainly rarely did so. Perhaps with the exception of borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbors.
Right now we receive a lot of help in many ways and we are learning to accept it. We are even learning to ask for it sometimes. But it takes some getting used to. Perhaps because we know it’s not just for a short period such as a week of the flu or the early weeks after giving birth or moving.
We will need this for a while.
It is admitting that we cannot do it on our own. That we need other people to help us do the normal things in life. That it is essential for us to be able to keep going, individually, the two of us and us as a family.
The African saying: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is the message here. And with a handicapped child it is not just teaching the child life lessons, our village consists of doctors, nurses, family, friends, neighbors and members of our church. And our village helps with medical care, mental support, pans of soup and pasta (and sometimes even chocolate cake), time and giving attention to our other healthy daughter, places to spend the night, cards and prayer, painting our garden storage unit, vacuuming our house and spending time with family and friends, a night of good sleep. And the village can even help us with much needed financial support.
Raising and caring for a child with disabilities requires parents who can accept help, who are learning to say yes and have the courage to ask. We have started doing this.
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