Saturday, March 20, 2010

From the Wolf Den: The Village People

I've always considered myself to be an "I can do it myself" sort of gal. I'll read up, I'll listen, I'll observe, but when it comes right down to it, I like to tackle things on my own. This stubborn streak of rabid independence bodes well for things like hiking or skiing and sometimes writing, but not so much when it comes to parenting a child with a disability, I've found out.

The hardest, most agonizing realization I had to make as a mother was the smack-in-my-face concept of the Village; for my sanity, for my health, and for that of my child. Sometimes we all need other people, and the Village was my sanctuary of support, and only now am I recognizing the hundreds of individuals who provide it through physical care, emotional (and sometimes literal) hand-holding, paperwork and phone call-making, long-distance calling, and spiritual direction.

Many of these individuals I have never met in person, some I interact with every single day, many are people who are stalwart figures in my past but not in my present; all are part of the Village.

Wolf needs a village, that much is certain. If one looks at how small communities exist in remote parts of Alaska and the world, the concept of villages raising children is not new. Every single child has adult supervision all day (we hope), be it through the elderly who watch kids when parents are doing tasks outside the boundaries of home, or parents of friends, or relatives, or teachers; many, many people are involved. They are everybody's children, all the time, and the success or failure of a child belongs to the entire population.

Parents of disabled children need the Village. We need to know there are other people who will step in with confidence when we cannot. People to scrape our emotions from the floor when we have reached the ultimate in rock bottom and feel we could not possibly deal with this child for one more minute. We have to have people to care for our other children when we have appointments, or conference calls, or school district meetings, or just taking a nap. Even the people who are not physically around Wolf or Yukon and Bear and I on a daily basis still make a difference. Praying, pondering, or writing a note; it all matters.

We're nearing a summit with Wolf; coming closer to the day when we will have to decide what, where, and how we will support his needs into adulthood.

The Village is ready. They told me so.

What a concept.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

I'm with is SO hard to ask for help, to admit that we simply can't so it all ourselves. My hubby and I have the "remember to ask for (and accept) help" conversation often about me. Sigh. I am glad for you that you have your village and are blessed with a son who gives you the reason to go beyond yourself and your comfort zone to find them.