How to Overcome Misunderstanding When You’re a Caregiver

Melony

In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, we’re sharing the stories of other bloggers and caregivers. Today guest blogger, Melony Lucas, explains how she learned to overcome misunderstanding when people didn’t understand her son’s sensory processing disorder.

I’m standing on the street corner with my two boys when a voice calls out from a car window, “What kind of mother are you? Get some shoes on that kid, sheesh! Have you no love or care?”

Yes, it is cold out and yes, my older boy doesn’t have shoes on. It takes about 45 minutes of therapy for him to wear socks….and then shoes. There was this helicopter you see…but there is no time to explain, because the driver, a police officer, just calls out his disdain and speeds away.

He knows nothing of the countless hours of pouring out my very self as mother to three children, one of which has sensory processing disorder. What kind of mother am I? A tired and weary and hanging-on-by-a-thread-yet-unwilling-to-quit-because-of-love-for-these-kids kind. The kind that asks again and again and again the questions of the people who can help me get to the bottom of what is wrong with my son. The kind who listens to parenting advice with patient frustration, knowing that things are more complicated than that.

The policeman’s words, they are merely few amongst many that cut deep. He epitomizes the countless times I have been misjudged and misunderstood by the watching world, and it is painful and lonely.

Remember that you don't know the whole story--don't judge without seeking understanding. Click To Tweet

***

Seven years later and I’m watching this boy run towards his teammates gathered around a ball. He plays soccer now….. soccer! With shin guards and cleats and soccer socks pulled up over his special seamless socks we buy on the Internet. I am beside myself with joy at the miracle that just bounded out of my car. And tears well up, for it has been such a long and hard fight to get here. A long, long, hard fight.

I join the other soccer moms on the sidelines, yet there is this sting of loneliness. Because even if I declare with gusto, “I never thought I’d see the day my son could do this!” try as they might, there is no one here who can really understand and rejoice with me save the God Who Sees. The One who has been a witness all along, He alone understands.

To be understood is a beautiful thing. Flesh and blood to whom I can speak without many words, yet be understood, is a gift I do not take lightly. Ones who have prayed and watched and spoken life into my soul when it all hung too heavy, this parenting of children, with a special needs one thrown in the mix. Ones who were kind with their expectations; understanding it was a hard and exhausting road we were on. Their understanding, comforting as it is, still has its limits. But there is a limitless ever present God who knows. He knows when I sit and when I rise and He knows what it is to be misunderstood.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? ….He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name, because of His great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel; “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God….He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:21, 26-28 emphasis mine)

***

My boys didn’t just get to watch the helicopter land that day—they got to go inside it. It was a Med-Evac chopper training via the vacant field near our house. I didn’t know any of that ahead of time, I just heard the sound of the blades cutting through the sky and I ran out to catch a glimpse of it.

I saw it land, grabbed my boys and we ran the couple of blocks so they could watch. And then I basked in the joy of watching them take it all in. When the pilots got out to stretch their legs and invited us over for a closer look—oh, the Joy! Can’t you just picture it? On this random otherwise ordinary day, two little boys sitting in a helicopter, looking at all the buttons, talking with the pilots! Our hearts soared with the joy of it all—until those policeman’s words sucker-punched the air right out of me.

Walking slowly home, the boys’ eyes gleam, their heads lift to the sky while my eyes fill with tears, and my head hangs low—until the whisper comes from the Voice who spoke the earth into being, the One who sees what is done in secret and rewards, Who promises that our labors are not in vain and encourages us to not lose heart. I breathe in His life-giving words and lift up my head as He comforts and counsels,

Helicopter trumps shoes. Helicopters trump shoes. Be encouraged, Mama, you have My wisdom, and helicopters always trump shoes…especially for Zeke.

***

This God who knows and sees gave me perspective and helped me forgive those unkind words, reminding me that I didn’t understand anything about that policeman either. I knew nothing about the kind of calls he’d been on during the week, or what his growing up life was like that caused him to be so angry at me for my boy without shoes on a cold day.

Some of my favorite verses about being known and understood: Psalm 139; Hebrews 4:14-16; Psalm 103 especially vs. 14; Matthew 6 especially vs. 4,6,18; 1 Corinthians 15:58.

melMelony Lucas’ life is filled full with love from her man Jeremy along with Hannah, Zeke, Daniel and thier fluffy Saint Bernard.  She’s been surprised by joy in the noise of the city and quiet of the mountains, and spends her days continually chasing after it amidst the stuff of life.  You can find her on her blog; ChasingJoy where she writes about what she discovers along the way.

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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